Bowens Pulls Out Of The Biggest Show In The UK. Could Indicate Trouble For The Lighting Company

Feb 19, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Bowens Pulls Out Of The Biggest Show In The UK. Could Indicate Trouble For The Lighting Company

Feb 19, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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Living next to Europe means I get to visit the UK Photography show* every march. This is the biggest photoshow in the UK and you can think about it as a Photokina prequel.

Bowens were supposed to have a MASSIVE booth on that show. (A huge booth, a show stage for them and a lounge – a few thousands of square feet). A verified source just informed DIYP that Bowens is pulling out out of the show. More details, and some analysis ahead.

First The News

First here is what we got from our verified source:

[Bowens] decided to pull out of The Photo Show ENTIRELY!
Not a reduced stand
Not a smaller stage
Not limited stock
They are not even going to be putting the banner up, no presence whatsoever. It’s difficult to imagine that one of the largest stands up there pulling out at this late stage. That is one gaping black hole TPS now has to fill and Bowens have pissed off a lot of people in doing so.
Obviously those pissed off people include the bowens team togs, models, MUA’s who have been expecting that gig and money and turned down other work because if it.

And indeed, Bowens is no longer listed on the TPS site.

BTW, that was their listing last week:

bowens-03

But Why Is This Big?

Now, to get how big of a thing this is for both The Photography Show and Bowens here is how Bowens were planning to play at the show.

Huge spaces taken

As a leading lighting company, Bowens ordered quite a bit of space. They had one of the bigger booths in a prominent location, they had a big corner stage and an impressive lounge

bowens-01
I left Canon’s Leica and Ricoh in the screen shot, so you can get an idea of size…

A stage

See that top, left orange square, it was a stage that Bowens were planning to fill with demos, educational material and live shows.

A lounge

bowens-02

everyone who’s ever been on a trade show knows that sitting space is rare and coveted. And Bowens had a huge lounge (which is still on the TPS website). This is where you can go to sit for a bit, meet interesting people or have a quite conversation. The fact that Bowens had a lounge up meant they are committed to the industry.

So What Happened?

First let me say that pulling away from a show in the last minutes (and 4 weeks in the trade-show biz for such a huge stand is last minute) is almost unprecedented. It’s not that it never happens, but it rare. the amount of resources that go into planning, booking the space and producing materials is huge. It takes several months to pull off a huge stand like this and I estimate that the space was already mostly paid for as well as many other materials that were planned to be used in the show.

Secondly, there are many more expenses tied into actually BEING in the show: Shipping things over, allocating inventory, paying to models, photographers, roadies, MUA artists, traveling, print material and the list goes on. So not being in the show actually does save some moeny (though I’ll be surprised if any of the pre-payments for space and planning will ever be returned).

Thirdly, this leaves the show with a big gap. an empty booth and a dead corner that the show now needs to fill last minute. Having that huge of a spot empty would just look bad and reflect poorly on the show. I was not at the room where Bowens told the show exec that they were pulling out, but I would imagine that the only pull out that the producers were thinking about is pulling Bowens marketing dept. hairs from their heads.

Now comes the fun part, speculations

Bowens gave no official or unofficial excuse for the reasons to pull away from The Photograhy Show. But I can try and speculate.

One option would be that Bowens is bleeding. They are unable to compete with the new Prophotos, Elinchroms and Broncolors out there and the business is, well, not doing so great. So Bowens is taking a deep breath and regrouping its powers so it can focus on getting back in the game. Anything that does not directly makes money or contributes towards a new product is cut away.

A second (albeit sadder) option is that Bowens are cutting expenses so they have some value to offer to investors or potential buyers. This is what happens when a company tries to continue doing business until a life-line is offered, and pouring money on a show will take away from the time Bowens has to live.

Either way, this is not happy news.

*I’ll be there this year. Just look that weird hair guy with the DIYPhotography shirt, and come and say hi.

UPDATE: Bowens reached out and it seems like our concerns were premature. Bowens says they are solid and will be kicking off a constant light solution at BVE  and some strobes later this year. YAY!

UPDATE: Bowens sent in a press release. they will come back big, just not at TPS:

Bowens exits TPS after ‘time challenges’ on new Generation X product line

Bowens has announced it is pulling out of The Photography Show (NEC March 19-22)

The company made its decision when it became clear it faced ‘time challenges’ on brand new products planned for global launch at the show.

Alan Walmsley, Bowens sales and marketing director explained: “The decision to book 2016 show space was taken many months ago – after fulfilling our commitment at TPS 2015 to create the biggest ever presence by Bowens at any show or convention in almost seventy years.

But this 2016 show judgement has been predicated on our full expectation to use the NEC event as the platform for introducing our new flash system products.
Despite our all-out attempts to fulfil this ambition on schedule it is clear that the first models of our new ‘Generation X’ programme will not meet the required delivery deadline.  This is a major disappointment for all parties and we apologise unreservedly to everyone who was looking forward to seeing us and our new products in Birmingham.”

He added: “We are now planning our own dealer/distributor and press event in London in the summer -when we are 100% satisfied we will have fully working units available – not just renderings, plans and prototypes.”

John Gobbi, Bowens MD said: “We have noted recent social media noise, rumour and speculation but we must do what is right for the company. We want to launch our new-look products in fully working order and have them immediately available for our customers to buy – and sadly that is not now going to happen by the end of March.”

He added: “Bowens has undergone much change in recent months. We are effectively in the process of relaunching the company, embracing a renewed and reinvigorated focus on R&D and a brand new and highly compelling website.”

“These initiatives are part and parcel of our plans to completely reimagine this amazing and much loved brand and I can guarantee that our game-changing ‘Generation X’ programme will be very much worth the wait.”

John Gass, technical director said: “Generation X is the result of a major acceleration of our R&D programme, combined with a deep analysis of what our customers have been telling us they need to compete in today’s commercial environment. These new products are going to be unbeatable in their class in terms of functionality, aesthetics and of course, cost.”

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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5 responses to “Bowens Pulls Out Of The Biggest Show In The UK. Could Indicate Trouble For The Lighting Company”

  1. David Kilpatrick Avatar
    David Kilpatrick

    I know they have exciting new stuff in planning and my guess is that they can’t get it ready for the show as originally intended, and photokina – their really big marketing opportunity – is really only just round the corner in September. The Bowens lounge was certainly a lovely feature of Focus and TPS, but less so for TPS and was almost empty many times I popped my head in last year. Their payment record with our magazines is fine and I don’t think some of the suggestions being made – in trouble etc – are right, they are not behaving like a company in trouble. More like a company which has done some sums and realised that brand new product for photokina is a better way forward.

  2. Çağatay Belgen Avatar
    Çağatay Belgen

    In today’s world, exhibitions are not necessary in my opinion. we’ve got youtube on our hands… there is “reviewing madness” going on.. information is easily accessible.. shit like that… lol

  3. Fred Smith Avatar
    Fred Smith

    No need to start rumors since the facts will come out soon enough. There has to be a reason for this, and we can speculate they are upset with the people putting on the show or don’t have a new product ready or are being acquired or have financial issues or whatever. I won’t lose any sleep over this.

  4. Alan Walmsley Avatar
    Alan Walmsley

    Hi all,

    Thanks to those who are refusing to be drawn into the speculation game.
    It’s usually good journalistic practice to ask questions before posting
    speculation and rumour. As it happens, David’s post is spot on. We will
    be sending out a general press release on Monday so everybody knows
    where we stand.The plain facts are that those who are in the know, are
    aware that Bowens has been due to release new products for some time.
    The new management (which includes me) took the decision to put off a
    new product launch until the products were absolutely spot on for our
    target audience. They are (inevitably, as anyone seriously involved in
    NPD will know) running a smidge later than we would have wished and TPS
    is really too early for us. Now that we have a much better view of
    release dates for our NPD ( of which news soon) we have decided not to
    use valuable time, effort and money on two launches and concentrate our resources on one nearer the time. However, we DO have new products to launch into the
    continuous lighting/video market, so please come along to BVE next week,
    where you can see the new Mosaic II (Got to get a sell message in there
    somewhere!).

    Meantime, we still have lots of work to do on our new flash products, which will be killers…

    Alan Walmsley

    Sales & Marketing Director, Bowens International

    1. udi tirosh Avatar
      udi tirosh

      Hi Alan,
      Thanks or reaching out. Sadly no one of our sources were willing to speak either by name or incognito on where Bowens stands. I reached out to you in email.