Strong show of strength

16 January 2009

The Southern Electronics Show returns to FIVE, Farnborough on the 11th and 12th of February 2009. The 2008 show, held last February, was the most successful Southern Electronics show ever, with well in excess of 5000 visitors through the doors, but what will this years show bring? EM&T asked the organisers…

With the heady enthusiasm with which we traditionally view the approaching year tempered with concern about what might lay in store for UK industry, the sceptics and doom-mongers among us might feel justified in talking-up the downturn. In reality, as advance bookings for Southern Electronics indicate, nothing could be further from the truth.

Surprising as it may seem to those of a gloomy disposition - Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2009 is a virtual sell-out, with literally just a few stands remaining vacant as we move into the New Year. The mood amongst exhibitors may be more cautionary, as one might expect given the current economic situation, but it is far from fearful about the prospects for the coming year. On the contrary, with many electronics businesses reporting healthy order books, a large proportion of company bosses see a glass half-full rather than the dreary half-empty one that has become an all-too-familiar theme in the mainstream press.

With talk of recession seemingly splashed across every newspaper, it seems incongruous to be talking in positive tones about the outlook for electronics business in 2009. Yet, while some are undoubtedly suffering, a good number of enterprises have made good use of the shift in the status quo to reposition themselves in the market. “Change brings opportunities,” says Southern Electronics’ show director, Phil Valentine. “The banking crisis has been a wake-up call to a lot of UK companies to the fact that they really need to look long and hard at the way they do business, the markets they serve, how they can minimise risk exposure and make the most of the opportunities that are presented.”

For unlike the blue-collar recessions of the 1980’s and 1990’s, there are still plentiful opportunities for manufacturers and contractors able to adapt to the new trading conditions. This time, it’s the financial and service sectors that will feel the withering chill of recession the most keenly. The UK’s electronics industry, toughened by years of merciless international competition, is a hardy and determined survivor, well-equipped to exploit the sudden change in the business climate. With the pound weakening, UK sub-contractors and electronics specialists are finding they can once again compete aggressively for export business; as buyers search for more competitive deals, new opportunities are opening up for those businesses that are willing to embrace new technologies and techniques, and to work hard at building new business relationships.

For Phil Valentine, and for the 450 exhibitors and 5000+ visitors expected at Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2009, working hard means getting up-close and personal with new suppliers and customers: “Southern Electronics remains the best-supported electronics event in the UK for the simple reason that it has proven over the years to be an extremely effective way for electronics professionals to gain the knowledge and contacts that can make the difference between extinction and survival,” comments Valentine. “The sheer diversity of exhibiting companies means that visitors can discover the latest products, technologies and services across virtually the entire spectrum of British industrial activity in a single visit. No other event comes close in terms of representing such a productive use of time.” Its convenient location and free car parking makes it easy for visitors to attend, if only for an hour or two, and its accessible pricing policy means the show is open to a wide section of UK electronics businesses, many of whom do not exhibit elsewhere.

As in previous years, Southern Electronics 2009 will run alongside its sibling events, Southern Manufacturing, and Auto Aero 2009 - the specialist aerospace and automotive engineering event, now in its second year. All of the regular features of the show will return in 2009, including the extremely popular and highly-topical technical seminar programme, technology trails that allow visitors to make the most efficient use of their time at the show and specific areas such as the Sub-contracting zone that allow visitors to meet with a large number of suppliers quickly and easily.

Entry to the show and the technical seminars is completely free to business visitors, and FIVE Farnborough offers plentiful free car parking, superb access by road, rail or air, and an excellent selection of local hotels and restaurants to make your visit as enjoyable as it is productive. To register online for tickets, or to find out about exhibiting at this unique event, simply visit or call 01784 880 890.

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