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LWF launches Welcome Back Wednesday preview for on-trade re-opening

Published:  22 March, 2021

Organisers of the London Wine Fair (LWF) have announced that this year’s show will feature a special preview day aimed specifically at getting businesses back up and running in time for the slated reopening of the on-trade on 17 May.

Couched as Welcome Back Wednesday, the preview will take place as a one-off on 28 April, and will be fully virtual, just like the LFW itself.

Taking place at the mid-point between opening for outdoor hospitality (12 April) and indoor hospitality (17 May), the event will give the industry an opportunity to assess opening strategies and gear up for the end of lockdown, organisers said, while also including opportunities to review and renew drinks lists.

“When the government announced its intention to fully re-open hospitality on Monday 17 May, we very quickly realised we would need to adapt to ensure the Fair’s continued relevance to the on-trade,” head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey said. “It was immediately obvious that sommeliers would prioritise their re-opening day over everything else. But we also felt strongly that there needed to be some kind of platform for this sector to do business and share intelligence in the run up to the end of lockdown.”

The preview appears to be in part due to a clash of dates between the indoor reopening of bars and restaurants which looks to fall on 17 May, the first day of the Fair.

LWF first announced plans to return as a fully digital event back in January, before plans for the end of lockdown were announced.

Now, indoor reopening of bars and restaurants looks to fall on Monday 17 May.

“The need for absolute flexibility has been paramount at every stage of working on the 2021 show,” Tovey said. “Balancing an event which will not only be viable, but also ‘must-attend’, with every twist and turn the pandemic takes has been a challenge, but one that we have totally embraced.

“Preparations for the May event and Welcome Back Wednesday are now well under way. Exhibitors are committing to the show on a daily basis, and we are compiling an unrivalled schedule of unmissable content, which will be announced over the coming weeks.”

It is expected that around 20 companies will take part in the Wednesday event, focusing on the major UK importers and small to medium sized on-trade suppliers.

The day will be “rich in on-trade relevant content”, organisers said, and will include a heavy-weight panel debate on the re-opening of the hospitality sector.

The LWF meanwhile, will now be structured so that each day is partially targeted to a specific sector: day one’s content will be tailored to the off-trade and international audience; day two will be focused on the on-trade; and day three will have a discovery and press focus. It will run from the 17 to the 19 of May. 

Visitor registration for the 40th LWF opened last week. Tickets (£25), will give access to both Welcome Back Wednesday and the three days in May, as well as access to the virtual exhibitor stands, sampling platform and recorded content for three months.

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