CEO Summit: Kroll, Moore Open Up

The trade show organizers address concerns about dates and traffic.

From left Joe Moore Elyse Kroll FN’s Michael Atmore

Just mention the words trade show and you get everyone in the industry talking — a lot. So it’s no wonder that when Footwear News convinced the biggest show operators in the business — ENK founder and Chairwoman Elyse Kroll and FFANY President Joe Moore — to sit down together for the first time on stage, the impassioned audience was riveted. The pair gamely addressed concerns about dates, traffic and the outlook for trade shows. Here, excerpts from their conversation.

On the future of trade shows:

JM: I am sure there is a future. The exposure alone makes them more and more important for people [who want to grow brands].

EK: There better be one, or I am in very big trouble. I’m a trade show dog. I believe in trade shows. [They] are a very important part of the business. It’s an opportunity to bring everyone together under one roof. It’s where retailers get their best opportunity to see what’s going on at a glance.

On the date dilemma:

JM: Dates rule. FFANY is 30 years old this year, and that’s been a 30-year topic. Our industry doesn’t have the same needs, even within our board. It’s a difficult dilemma to appease everyone. We have a committee now on dates, which we never had before.

EK: Every industry seems to have a particular favorite. At Coterie, the show must, for the most part, be on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. In men’s, it has to start on a Sunday. Choosing dates is not always as easy as it would seem. We’re dealing with a great deal of real estate and we need to work with whatever facility to get the dates we want. If I know there is a unanimous decision to start on Monday, that’s what we would shoot for. I need to reach out and touch people and find out: Are the dates right? Maybe the timing that everybody’s been convinced is correct right now isn’t correct. Buyers are buying differently.

On WSA and FFANY working together:

EK: Joe is already working with me. I don’t want to be a competitor, I want to be part of the industry. FFANY is an organization that has been set up by the industry to help and protect the industry, and I want to be a part of that. I’m not trying to compete as much as provide a different service. FFANY is for the fashion segment of the footwear industry. ENK specializes in that [with our other shows]. WSA, now that we’re in every category, we don’t feel that we’re competing. There are many things we can talk about that will adjust the tension. I don’t have the long history that Joe has with WSA, or that some of the people in this room have with WSA, but I’m out there talking to people.

JM: There is one basic philosophy difference, and we have to learn what that means. You’re dealing with a not-for-profit company and a profit company. But that makes it possible for us to work in unison. What the goals are going to be aren’t defined. The relationship is new. This is the first time we’ve picked up the phone and called each other and both talked about how we can help the industry. There’s a desire. You can’t be mad at WSA if they want to make a profit. Everyone in this room wants to make a profit. But maybe there’s still a price issue or operational issue that has to be addressed.

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