On Sunday, I attended the Beta International event at the NEC in Birmingham.
The BETA Group
The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) represents more than 800 British suppliers and retailers.
Members include producers of famous brands and more than 400 tack shops across the UK.
It supports riders and horse owners by striving for excellence on behalf of equestrian shops and shoppers – and protects consumers by making sure that only tack shops run in a professional manner are allowed to become members and display the trade association’s logo.BETA Group
BETA International is known as a world-leading trade exhibition that supports the equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet product sectors and this year in particularly it is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Usually held at this time of year [January] the event is on for three days and offers the ideal networking opportunity for members of the industry as well as a chance to see hundreds of the most exciting and innovative new products that are to be unveiled.
During the event there is a daily timetable of top-class speakers, celebrity interviews and prestigious industry awards.
Why I A
It was only my second time attending this event and to be honest I only really went to see the Society of Master Saddler’s (SMS) ‘President’s Choice’ competition entries display, as I had entered into this.
I also like having a little nosy around the other saddle and bridle manufacturers’ stands to see what new and exciting designs and/or colour leathers are coming out.
I usually go with my husband and children so there is little chance to actually loiter around each stand and network properly but all in all it’s a nice day out.
Suppliers and Manufacturers
I was really impressed with Abbey England this year.
Not only did they have a lovely inviting stand which showcased their leather, namely Sedgwicks and Co and metalwork that they make and supply but they also had a ‘pavilion’ section, whereby a number of smaller companies had taken residence in and were getting some exposure.
I suspect this was a cheaper option for these companies to display at BETA rather than get a stand in their own right but something that hit me the most was how great it was seeing a British company support other British companies. Fantastic!
Spire Leather (Clayton Leather Group)
I was also very surprised to see a company called Spire Leather, operating out of the old Clayton Street Tannery in Chesterfield.
As some of you may or may not know, this used to be owned by the Clayton Leather Group who supplied leather to us saddlers.
The Clayton Leather Group was known to me mainly because they had brought out Sedgwicks a couple of years prior to their own liquidation, but thankfully, a group of local businessmen clubbed together and revived the Clayton Street tannery but under the new name of ‘Spire Leather’.
I hope they will continue to develop and supply British leather to us saddlers.
Whilst we were at the event the best innovative product we saw and mainly caught the eye of my daughter, was a Unicorn Saddle.
Not very practical, I admit, but I suspect it was never meant to be for practical use.
We were told it was just a demo saddle, nevertheless it was very beautiful!
The Presidents Choice
Every year, the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) organise a National Saddlery Competition where Trainee, Qualified and Master Saddlers enter leatherwork items they have produced into a variety of categories for the hope of winning an award and in some cases a monetary prize.
Over the last couple of years, the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) have displayed the ‘Presidents Choice’ category of entries at the BETA International event for the public to admire and vote on their favourite.
This is great for us Saddlers because not only do we get marked on technical ability by the SMS judges but also get votes made by the public put towards the overall mark.
I can’t tell you which entry is mine but it is amongst these pictures.
National Saddlery Competition
On Monday 4th February 2019, I will be attending the National Saddlery competition in London and hopefully gain an award but if not I will get to meet some old and new friends as well as admire some stunning leatherwork.
Until then, speak soon, Clair x