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October/November 2013

SAFTAD shows that

The show just goes on

The annual SAFTAD trade show this year again showed that when the economy gets tough, people go fishing by attracting a full house of exhibitors and retail visitors from across the country and Africa

Despite complaints about the economy, the annual SAFTAD fishing tackle trade show keeps on growing: this year a full house of 50 exhibitors showed their goods to representatives from 256 Southern African companies.

That means that nearly 40% of South African suppliers of fishing related products exhibited and more than 20% of retailers across the country who sell some form of fishing gear (including clothing or accessories) travelled to the annual show in Johannesburg over the weekend of 17-18 August.

Access is strictly controlled to admit only trade visitors, and about 90% of the close to 700 visitors were retailers.

Apart from showing the latest fishing gear, the trade show offers the ideal opportunity for comparing notes on market conditions. The consensus was that trading was tough — but, several suppliers were positive and reported that many retailers were trading well.

Several suppliers also reported that sales of higher end merchandise were less affected than at the lower end, where consumers had less money to spend on non-essentials and were more affected by unemployment figures.

The South African market is overtraded, was a concern expressed by Mike Philip of The Kingfisher. “One has to work extra hard to promote your brands,” he says. “In the end, good service to the customer makes the difference.”

Many suppliers expressed concern about the prospect of price increases over the next year from Asian manufacturers.

“We’ve absorbed some of the costs so far, but we cannot do that indefinitely,” says Graham Hills of Pure Fishing SA. While he agrees that the market is quiet, and some retailers suffer, he adds that some retailers delivered standout performances.

He also confirmed that they will be distributing Greys & Hardy in Southern Africa, following the international acquisition of the iconic UK fly fishing brands by Jarden Corporation’s Pure Fishing division. Dave Levine, a veteran in the fly fishing market, will be assisting them with this range.

Although Pure Fishing has not been active in the fly fishing market, Hills believes the company will benefit globally from adding these well-known brands to their stable. For example, their existing brands and Greys & Hardy will all benefit from a transfer of technologies — like their award-winning reel technology and the unique Sintrix rod technology that Hardy & Grey have the rights to.

Not everybody, however, agrees that the higher end merchandise has been selling better. During the past season they sold more mid-range rods and reels, below R1 000, not the high end products, says Lionel Crow of Okuma Fishing Africa.

Akals, which is part of the Midas Group, is now known as Okuma Fishing Africa, because Okuma is one of the fastest growing brands in the world, explains Lionel Crow. With this name change the South African distributors followed the example of distributorships in the US, Europe and Australia.

Howard Joscelyne of Apex Jarvis Walker agrees that middle price point products sell better — while sales in the top end of their ranges were down, middle range products sold well during the winter months. But, as soon as the weather started improving, the orders started coming in. “We’ve had really good orders since the beginning of August,” he says.

WET Sports Importers are also fairly upbeat about trading conditions — despite the economy. We wrote some good orders and were happy with the interest in our products, says Andrew Wentzel. “Many fishing guys are seeing an uptick in their businesses and some of them are very positive.”

Their fishing ranges have been growing yearly, and there were again several new products to see on their stand.

Apart from placing orders, the show offers an opportunity to introduce new agents to retailers, and WET Sports Importers made use of the opportunity to introduce their new Gauteng agent, Darryl Dickerson, to the visitors.

Gareth Adams of Stealth Fly Fishing was one of the most optimistic and enthusiastic exhibitors. “It has been a good year,” he says, whilst acknowledging that the industry and market is changing. “One must move with the changes — the days when you could sell R7 000 fly rods are gone,” he says. “We now sell more for less.”

In the coming year he is hoping to give a boost to the fly fishing market with a dedicated show, and with workshops to attract new customers like women and young people to the sport.

He has already been involved with youth clinics at schools and black empowerment clinics for Mpumalanga workers in order to try and gain new fly fishing converts.

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