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Executive Profile: “I believe that united we stand”

In the first in a new series, finds out what makes high profile execs in the business tick, starting with Adrian Sneyd, show organiser of Harrogate International Nursery Fair.

Adrian Sneyd, show organiser, Harrogate International Nursery Fair talks switching careers, changes in the nursery business, his best piece of advice and sharing the tea making duties.

How long have you been show organiser for Harrogate Nursery Fair?

I officially joined the Nursery Fair team over ten years ago now to work alongside Robert Anslow (the show owner). My previous roles had been on a completely different track having worked for local government for 25 years. For a good 20 years of this period I’d taken a week’s holiday each year to help Robert run the fair. During these years I’d done everything from traffic control and unloading trucks, to scanning visitors and cleaning all the halls. Some hard graft but enjoyable all the same, and what it did give me was a good insight into the industry that clearly knows how important the social side of the business is.

What is your greatest achievement in the role?

It wasn’t only me who changed career to join Robert. Simon (Robert’s son) also left his job at the same time, so we became a team of three, meaning that we are all hands on with every aspect of running the fair. We don’t simply sell a stand and pass it on to another section to pick up the pieces. We’ll do our best to ‘own’ any problem that might come our way and find a solution as fast as possible. Obviously, my aim is to have all of the halls filled with stands and busy with buyers: something we achieved a few years ago when we did manage to grow the show to this scale and there wasn’t a square foot of space spare to squeeze anyone else in.

Favourite part of your job?

I enjoy the challenge of trying to find each exhibitor the stand they want – something not always straightforward given the complex layout of the Harrogate halls. We pride ourselves in trying to be as flexible as possible – I’ll ask and listen to the exhibitor’s requirements and what they would like to achieve and then work to find a solution we can achieve together.

Who is the unsung hero in your company?

Whoever’s turn it is to make the tea! Being just the three of us, we all take it in turns.

What is the biggest change within the nursery industry that you have seen since you have worked in it?

I’m sure that everyone working in the nursery industry for as long as I have will have seen significant changes over the years – the prominence of online sales detracting business from the high streets, the demise of some of the large multiple retailers which were once the ‘go to’ destinations for parent-to-be and fewer independent retailers.

It appears to be harder now than ever for products to be manufactured in the UK, resulting in many more imports (even those which have been originally designed in Britain). The cost of manufacturing and getting products to market appears to be more challenging and many of the numerous ‘mumpreneurs’ who launched some really innovative new product ideas at the show with genuine enthusiasm seem to be diminishing every year.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

To count to ten. Try and reflect first, then act second.

If you could change one thing about the nursery business, what would it be and why?

To just get everyone on the same page at the same time together. I believe that united we stand, so while the nursery business isn’t huge in the UK, what it does offer is a great opportunity for everyone to benefit from being together and be able to present customers with the best platform to showcase their products in a cost-effective, friendly and easy run show solution.

This feature originally appeared in the April 2021 edition of Progressive Preschool. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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