After kicking off the year which such an awful story about Penn's break-in last week, it's great to report on something positive today.
There's no doubt about it, LAMMA's choice to move their show indoors to the NEC this year was certainly risky - but it does appear to be one which has paid off handsomely.
Following the trials and tribulations which the show, its exhibitors and its visitors faced last year when the weather dictated that the second day had to be cancelled, the show had the opportunity to hit the ground the running in 2019 - to prove to the doubters that the right choice had been made. And the consensus appears to be that the organisers achieved this.
Reports from visitors and exhibitors alike, both in-person and across social media, seem to be overwhelmingly positive. It will be very interesting now to see what the reaction of the big ag boys who chose to stay away this year will be to the reactions coming out of Birmingham.
Service Dealer's agricultural machinery specialist, Martin Rickatson, who had attended the show in its various forms for many years, was impressed with the reinvention. He said, "There was a positive atmosphere throughout the show, not just from the visitors but from the exhibitors too. Being able to stop and talk in a warm, dry and well-lit environment clearly benefited exhibitors, dealers and farmer visitors. And the presence among the crowds of interested visitors from absentee manufacturers and importers was notable. It will be interesting to see whether they return with stands in future years."
Also in attendance was Service Dealer owner, Duncan Murray-Clarke, who had very positive thoughts regarding the show. He said, "LAMMA at the NEC was without a doubt a success. With some of the big boys in non-attendance it allowed the smaller tractor and equipment suppliers a chance to really shine. I should think that these guys have really stolen some ground on their larger competitors.
"Also because of how accessible the NEC is, it felt like more of a national show than previously. Visitors had clearly come from all across the country, not just from the local area. This was probably helped by the free parking being offered - as well as the most welcome early bird breakfast!
"It was also clear a great many visitors had made the trip over from Ireland for the show. I heard that the flights across were absolutely packed."
Exhibitors were impressed as well. For example Adrian Winnett, managing director of the UK and Ireland arm of Argo Tractors said, “The new indoor format for the LAMMA show was a great success as far as we’re concerned. We mounted our most ambitious display of tractors in the style used at big shows in France, Germany and Italy to emphasise the substance behind the Landini and McCormick product ranges. A good number of competitor and start-up dealers came to talk to us at the show, to see what we have to offer and I’m sure they went away impressed.”
Impressing the visitors, be they dealers or end-user customers, was always an incredibly important element of the relaunch which the show needed to achieve. Looking through comments on the #LAMMA19 thread on Twitter, frankly it's almost impossible to find anyone with anything negative to say.
Enthusiastic farmers were posting their compliments almost from as soon as the doors opened on Tuesday. Just a few examples included:
- Chris Hewis saying "@lammashow organisers will be patting themselves on the back tonight. This is the show that this country has been waiting for. It feels like Smithfield again. Great showcase for our industry."
- David Howlett said, "I have to say i really cannot complain about #lamma19, traffic was a dream, nice and warm whilst walking round, I think the organisers may have found a recipe for success in the future!
- James Whatty wrote, "#Lamma19 was far better being in the warm and dry today, good crowds too, makes the big boys like @JohnDeere @NewHollandAG @HORSCHUK look a bit silly for not turning up!"
- Steven Pass said, "I know there was a few sceptical of the move of @lammashow to the NEC, yes it isn't cheap for the exhibitors to attend, but as a show and venue for those attending it's fantastic, inside in the warm and dry, it's what the Uk has lacked since the demise of Smithfield"
In fact, after trying I could only find a couple of negative comments, the first one being someone complaining about the food on offer at the NEC not representing the best of British farming produce.
The second must have been more disappointing for the organisers as it blew up into a bit of a social media kerfuffle that ended up being one of the most read stories on the BBC News site yesterday. A number of people were getting, quite rightly, annoyed at a manufacturer still using 1970s-style, skimpily dressed women as a means of attracting attention to their brand. Hopefully the organisers will have a quiet a word in Agrifac's ear ahead of next year's event that that isn't the image the industry wants to be promoting in 2019. It would be a real disservice if the general public associate a forward-looking farm machinery show, with this sort of outdated marketing method of the past.
But all in all, the organisers of LAMMA should be pleased with what they've achieved this week. It was never going to be easy and without its cynics - but a foundation has been laid at the NEC.
It's all quite reminiscent of when SALTEX moved from Windsor to Birmingham. There was understandable trepidation beforehand at the change to that format, and a few grumbles from traditionalists after the fact - but the consensus of opinion now is that it's improved and breathed fresh life into the show. Listening to attendees and exhibitors at LAMMA this week, you can clearly see a similar pattern emerging.
Now let's see whether those who were absent, look to join the party next year.