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Sophomore Year

After a successful first year, the CR&B Show has a rep to maintain

Trade shows are like a house party: you might not say it out loud, but your first question is usually “who else is going?” Because like any good social gathering, how it plays out depends on who shows up, and a newly established trade show is like a party thrown by the new kid in school. It’s hard to know who’s planning to go. There’s just not much to go on.


In the foodservice industry, the 2018 Canadian Restaurant & Bar Show was that new kid. But 2019 is its sophomore year, and with one successful show under its belt, the CR&B Show has earned a reputation. It turns out the new kid can really throw a party.


“It certainly had tremendous opportunities,” says Barry Reid, vice president of sales and marketing at Flanagan Foodservice. “The show opened many opportunities with quality customers that we had greater conversations with.”


Last year, thousands of people attended the inaugural CR&B Show to check out exhibitors like Flanagan, as well as education sessions, panel discussions, cooking demos and more. This year will be like last, only bigger. For 2019, the CR&B Show has seen a 35 per cent jump in exhibitors, and with the growing number of attendees, it gives everyone the chance to not only get more contacts and generate new leads, but actually get deals done. It’s why Reid is coming again this year, repeating the sales “blitz” the Flanagan team did ahead of the show.


“It wasn’t as big as some others shows,” says Reid about 2018. “But the value, the quality of the customers, I found very good. Rather than just having 300 people, you’d get 100 that were quality, and it made a big difference.”


In short, it’s not the biggest party — um, show — but the people showing up are the people you want to meet. Last year, Reid says his team was able to generate several leads with independent restaurants in Toronto, where Flanagan is looking to expand its footprint, as well as three or four multi-unit chains. The emphasis on food helps as well, says Reid. Other shows tend to focus on equipment, but the CR&B has taken it back to the stock and trade of hospitality: food and beverage. “This gets back and concentrates on the food side of it,” says Reid. “There’s a little nostalgia for what it used to be.”

Last year, Paul Bourrie, president of McCormack Bourrie Sales & Marketing, had clients that were also looking for something different. He found it for them at the CR&B Show.


“Any time you do something for the first time, you’re not sure what to expect,” says Bourrie. “But some of the changes MediaEdge made concerning the location, the time of year, the fact that it was compressed into two days rather than three days, I think factored into its success.”


This year, the brands Bourrie represents decided to increase their participation in the show, and others that balked last year changed their mind for 2019. “That speaks to the fact that the ones that were there felt it was worthwhile and not only want to participate this year, but increase their presence as well.”


Last year, established players and new ventures alike showed up to the CR&B Show not knowing exactly what to expect. But this year, the new kid has a track record. The CR&B Show is accessible, food-focused and attended by the people businesses want to connect with, and like last year, 2019 is shaping up to be a great party. If you’d like to attend, click here and register for FREE using promo code CRFN19.

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