Virgin mojitos and plug and play: FEA’s Light Equipment and Tableware Forum

Virgin mojitos and plug and play: FEA’s Light Equipment and Tableware Forum
Delegates and exhibitors share optimistic outlook despite challenging market conditions

Virgin mojitos, pea sorbet and plug and play were prominent at the FEA Light Equipment and Tableware Forum 2024, held at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire on May 14 and 15.  This is the annual event where suppliers showcase their latest launches to an audience of customers, distributors and media.  The Forum has been steadily growing over the years and the 2024 edition attracted a record number of delegates. 

While many exhibitors and delegates acknowledged that the market had been challenging, there was also plenty of optimism about the future – despite fears that prices may have to rise towards the end of the year due to increasing shipping costs.  Although price is an increasingly influential factor for buyers, operators are looking for new ideas, and for many businesses supplying the LET sector the year has gone well so far.  While some operators are holding back, there are encouraging areas of growth – the fast food sector for one. 

A major change at the Forum was that Steve Goodliff has stepped down as chair and spokesperson for the LET Group.  His successor, Paula Sherlock, opened proceedings alongside FEA chair Paul Anderson.  They welcomed delegates and introduced some of the new features for 2024 – including ‘plug and play’, with exhibitors being encouraged to demonstrate their latest gadgets and gizmos.  That meant delegates were treated to a variety of  sights, sounds and tastes as they met the suppliers… popular offerings included pea sorbet and a virgin mojito. 

Paula Sherlock commented, “This was a great Forum and there was a really good buzz in the room.  The variety of new products and the introduction of the plug and play demonstrations certainly stimulated lots of interest.  Feedback has been brilliant, from both exhibitors and delegates.” 

One of the delegates was Rob Priest of Parsley In Time.  He said, “The organisation is great, it’s a very successful format. It’s also a brilliant networking event, for both seeing colleagues and suppliers and meeting new people.”

Seema Grantham of BHETA, the trade association for manufacturers, importers, and distributors operating in the DIY, garden, housewares and small electrical sectors, attended the Forum on a fact finding mission for her members.  She was impressed, too, saying, “It’s really well organised, well attended, lively, informative and everyone is very engaged.” 

Lisa Munden of Lifetime Brands said, “It’s brilliant to have all these customers speaking to us – and they are very engaged.  To see this many normally would take forever… we’ve attracted new distributors here – hopefully we’ll sign them up!”

LET Award winners

The LET Forum’s awards dinner saw Steve Goodliff win the Donald Bird Award, which recognises an individual who has gone the extra mile and had a significant impact on the light equipment and tableware industry.  Steve had been chair of FEA’s LET Group for eighteen years and received his award to a standing ovation.  Meanwhile, the Sales Professional of the Year award was won by Jeff Wood from United UK and the Distributor Cup went to Alliance – for the seventh year in a row!

The Forum by numbers

  • 16 exhibitors
  • 81 delegates from..
  • 21 distributor companies
  • £1,200 raised for St. John Ambulance at the Awards Dinner (another new record).
  • 3 music channels at the Awards Dinner silent disco


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