Born out of need in 2007, Crown’s Northern Showcase has evolved over the years to fulfill the changing demands of the industry, positioning itself as the perfect show for operators to view tested product and network just before the start of the season.
Celebrating its 10th year, the Northern Showcase, run by Crown Direct, has announced a change in venue, moving to Wellington Park, Burlington Gardens in Leyland, Lancashire on 3-4 May.
A regular favourite on the coin-op calendar, Crown’s success with the event owes much to its ability to evolve over the years, keeping up with the changing landscape of the amusements industry.
Dean Harding, managing director at Crown Direct, explained how it all began: “We first started the showcase back in 2007 just before the change of the act, because there was so much going on with products and changing law going from section 16s to B3s. Back then, we felt we needed to do something because there was lots of change on the gaming side of the business and we needed to get ourselves in front of customers and our suppliers and get everyone pulling together to try and understand what the new specification of products was going to look like. That was the need of the show at the time.”
The busy showcase, which started as a necessity in the face of new legislation, has become a focused yet diverse show providing the most up-to-date information on both new products and the state of the market.
“We’ve always been pleased with the turnout and support both from customers and suppliers, its established itself as an event in the calendar for people to catch up and network,” added Harding. “I think we serve a purpose in that there will be some new product to look at, where people have looked at product in January but it’s untested, so we’ll be able to supply more information on performance and give people more confidence in what they’re investing in from a capital point a view.”
Indeed, the timing of the show is extremely significant for an industry that is somewhat controlled by the seasons, and the Northern Showcase’s position between EAG and ACOS, as well as just before the summer, gives the event a unique edge.
“From a domestic-show point of view, EAG is very early in January and ACOS is in October, so it’s a big gap between the two,” explained Harding. “In 2007 we used to hold the show in the summer, but as the shows matured and the markets changed we’ve moved it to a key point between Easter and Whitsun. This timing is key and the other two shows are in London, and some of our customers are not travelling into London.”
While the Big Smoke may not be for everyone, Harding notes this fact isn’t always due to distance, speculating that some operators perceive the whole trip as a general ‘headache’. Although he encourages those in the industry to go to all trade expos, the Northern Showcase appears to be a personal favourite for particular operators.
“We get not just local support, but customers that travel from Scotland, from the east coast whether that is Skegness, Scarborough, North Wales, we’ve even had people come from Brighton, just because things have always changed since the last exhibition,” Harding added. “It also gives the opportunity, while they are here, to have a day out and look around what people are doing in the market, either a day trip into Blackpool, or into Manchester to see what other operators are doing, so it does give an opportunity to catch up.”
Attendees to the event will also be able to join Bacta’s North West AGM which takes place in conjunction with the showcase.
“The reinvigoration we’ve seen in Bacta over the last couple of years, particularly with the introduction of John White as chief executive, helps to bring more of a focal point and purpose to the event. The more reasons we can give people to turn up the better,” concluded Harding.