The WSA Show has worked closely with European buyers over the past year to define key needs and create new programs for building relationships between WSA exhibitors and European buyers. The resulting initiative, led by WSA’s Retail Relations team headed by Celeste Boehm, director of Retail Relations, helps detail buyers’ requirements, such as price points, footwear categories and target consumers, and then identifies brands and manufacturers that meet the requirements and facilitates on-site meetings with WSA exhibitors.

European retailers who will be attending the August 2006 WSA Show in Las Vegas (August 1-4) represent major footwear chains, mass merchandisers, discounters, major sporting goods chains and independent footwear retailers. To date, the WSA has registered key retailers from England, France, Germany, Greece and Italy. Retailers slated to attend the August show include Kurt Geiger, Stylo Barratts PLC, The John David Group PLC, all from the UK; JD Sports and Sport 2000 International (Germany); F & C Lemonis SA (Greece); Compar SPA (Italy); and BWT King Ltd (Estonia). Philippe Versluysen, who heads up WSA’s European office in Milan, is working side by side with important retailers throughout Europe to secure their attendance at this global footwear and accessories marketplace, showing them the benefits of how attending can help drive their sales.

The European retail relations team consists of dedicated resources in Europe with retail ambassadors in key countries working to build a pan-European attendee presence at WSA. The European team led by Versluysen, works with international trade associations to identify pilot projects that will benefit retailers abroad. This year, the team will be hosting retail delegations from France and Italy at the WSA Show, assisting through one-on-one meetings in Europe prior to the show to identify business needs, sharing business trend information to facilitate doing business in the U.S. and providing on-site services to schedule show meetings in the most efficient manner.

“Having important international buyers at the show brings great value to many of our exhibitors, which is why we are identifying and individually recruiting them,” commented Diane Stone, chief operating officer of WSA. “The initiative we launched earlier this year to attract buyers from Europe is producing solid results. This show is an important business venue for these buyers because of the quality and breadth of exhibitors and brands and the convenience of doing business, often at the top executive level, in one place. This is an opportunity for both buyers and sellers that just doesn’t happen anywhere else but WSA so many of the world’s most important brands and retailers have selected our show to unveil the latest in fashion trends and kick off the buying season for spring and summer ’07,” Stone continued.

“The WSA Show is the only event in the world that delivers such a wide arrangement of footwear at the same time, in one place,” said Matthia Wanner, business unit manager for footwear at Sport 2000 International GmbH in Germany. “We are attending WSA for the first time to find new brands that we will introduce to our customers in the European market.”

Helen Bleazard, head of buying for women’s, men’s and children’s footwear at New Look Retailers in the UK said, “I have been coming to the WSA Show for several years now. WSA provides a good atmosphere for doing business and we continue to attend to see who’s got the right product. The intrinsic fashion value of a product is more important than its name. In our business, we change about 60% of our assortment every six weeks so it is important for us to stay on top of the latest trends.”

“We attend WSA to see something original and different in footwear. Attending the show provides us with plenty of new ideas and enthusiasm to inject into our staff in the UK,” said Marie-Rose Inglis, Partner, JAMES INGLIS (UK). “The ultimate goal is to find new products and suppliers, so that we can expand our business. The Retail Relations team has played a valuable role in helping us find new suppliers and identify new exhibitors and emerging brands, ultimately providing us with the competitive edge we need in the marketplace.”