Urban Expositions acquires California Gift Show from MMPI

Urban Expositions, a trade show management service, announced it has acquired the California Gift Show from Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI). The management transition will take place following the July 2012 edition of the semi-annual show held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Urban will redirect its focus and resources from recently-announced plans to launch a new gift show in Anaheim to expanding and enhancing the existing California Gift Show.
"We seized the opportunity to buy this show as we felt it could accelerate our efforts to rebuild the southern California gift market's brand as a leading trend, product and style resource," said Doug Miller, president of Urban Expositions. "Our original plans to launch a new event in Anaheim were grounded in our firm belief that the timing and market conditions were right to pour significant resources into bringing a fresh, vibrant show to the region's substantial buyer base. We'll be able to accomplish this goal much quicker and better serve the overall marketplace by using those same resources to build upon the foundation of the established California Gift Show and the synergistic opportunities that exist with neighboring permanent showroom buildings."
Following the July 2012 show, Urban will take over all sales, marketing, operations and other day-to-day duties for the January 25-28, 2013 California Gift Show and all future editions of the semi-annual show. Urban Expositions will work closely with MMPI leading up to the July 2012 event to ensure that a smooth transition of ownership takes place.
"Under the leadership of Urban Expositions, the California Gift Show will continue to lead the southern California gift market into its next iteration," said Mark Falanga, president of MMPI. "We're very pleased that Urban Expositions will continue to direct this positive industry momentum. Urban Expositions is well-equipped to bring the California Gift Show into the next generation and that is why we transitioned it to them. The Urban Expositions team will be great stewards for this show and will infuse it with significant resources, energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas that will stabilize the southern California giftware marketplace."
Urban plans to significantly expand the exhibitor base of the California Gift Show, targeting a Winter 2013 show opening with more than 2,000 domestic and international lines. As part of the effort to grow the show, Urban will feature nine well-balanced product categories ideally suited to the West Coast retail audience.
The popular destination categories of Kentia Hall--World Style, Jewelry Cash & Carry and Vintage will continue to be a mainstay. Order-writing will be expanded to include Design LA, Handcrafted, Gifts, Personal Style (including Spa) and two new categories, Outdoor Living and Boardwalk. Outdoor Living will focus on the casual lifestyle unique to Southern California and Boardwalk will feature souvenir, resort, beach and board sport resources.
The new acquisition is part of the continued western region growth strategy for Atlanta-based Urban Expositions, which purchased the Portland Gift Show and West Coast Cash & Carry Shows from Western Exhibitors last year; the San Francisco International Gift Fair and Seattle Gift Show from dmg world media in 2009, and launched the Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show in 2007.
"We are heavily invested in the Western U.S., committed to the long-term growth of each of our ventures here and well-poised to take a leadership role for the southern California marketplace," Miller said. "We've worked to ensure that each of our shows in each of these West Coast markets uniquely caters to the trends and tastes of the area, making them destinations for buyers across the country. We will build on this strategy for the California Gift Show too."
Sales efforts under Urban Expositions management will be overseen by Show Director Dirk von Gal. Von Gal will report to Joan Ulrich, VP of new business development, who joined Urban last year from MMPI, where she was responsible for building revenues for the company's permanent showroom buildings and trade shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
In addition to its full-scale sales efforts, Urban will launch an aggressive, targeted buyer marketing campaign designed to blanket the region with messaging about the expanded event and its opportunities. Pre-market promotions will be backed by a full roster of on-site programs and promotions, including special trend forecast presentations and business-building seminars, networking events, show hospitality and entertainment.

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