Industry View: Stephen Savory - English Heritage
Stephen Savory is Buying & Merchandising Manager at English Heritage. English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, Roman forts to a Cold War bunker - bringing history to life for over 10 million visitors annually. We caught up with Savory to ask his opinion on trends in the retail sector, the relevance of Irish craft and design internationally and how Showcase helps him do business.
How important is Showcase as a trade show on your annual buying calendar?
Showcase is a great event that we try to attend every year where possible. It has unearthed some absolutely fantastic suppliers, that are trading exceptionally well for us, creating a reason to keep coming back.
How do you think it compares to other trade fairs that you attend in the UK and Europe or beyond?
The event compares well, it’s not overpoweringly large, but it is big enough to make the trip to Dublin worthwhile.
English Heritage pendant charm.
What do you do during the Showcase event? Do you use Showcase as an opportunity to place orders, to research new brands or to meet with existing suppliers?
We never place orders at any show we attend, so Showcase is no different on that front; it great for researching new suppliers and trends as well as meeting new and existing suppliers.
What trends do you see in retail and how has consumer taste or sentiment changed?
I have noticed a bigger growth towards online, and, within the heritage sector, we are seeing a lot of movement away from traditional souvenirs and more into gifting and home and garden-led buying trends.
Stonehenge - a key heritage site managed by English Heritage.
How has Brexit impacted on your relationship with Irish suplliers?
Brexit-wise, no change, we have found our Irish suppliers very helpful in managing the Brexit import/ export elements for us and we plan to continue to trade with Irish suppliers at this time.
Aside from seeking new product, when you attend events such as Showcase are you also looking for designers and brands with whom to partner to produce bespoke ranges for English Heritage?
The general hunt is for suppliers that can work closely with us to create bespoke products and ranges.
Stonehenge mededallion pottery mug.
What do you think of the Irish design and craft scene in general? Do you think it is relevant internationally?
Absolutely it is relevant - there is no question of that at all!
How important do you believe the role of DCCI and Enterprise Ireland is in promoting Irish design and craft abroad?
They are paramount in promoting Irish craft and design. Without their input we would never have attended or picked up on the Irish suppliers that we now have.