2014 Newsmakers: MAGIC Parent Advanstar Acquired

Twice a year, more than 5,000 brands and more than 65,000 attendees decamp to Las Vegas to show their latest wares at the sprawling über trade show MAGIC and its sub shows, which include WWDMAGIC, Project, ENKVegas, Pooltradeshow and Sourcing at MAGIC.

So it was big news on Oct. 1 when MAGIC’s parent company, Advanstar, announced that it was being acquired for $972 million by UBM PLC, a London-based media and events-producing company. In the announcement, Joe Loggia, Advanstar’s chief executive officer, said that the deal will provide new opportunities for international business for the Santa Monica, Calif.–headquartered Advanstar. The deal benefited UBM because it provides an entry into the fashion trade show business. Loggia promised to direct Advanstar for a transitional time after the deal closed.

Since then, MAGIC has announced a new trade show, Playground, which will debut in February. The new show, which was announced on Nov. 10, will showcase clothes from infants’ to tweens’. The show will be curated by vendors and retailers, according to a MAGIC statement. Other than the kiddies’ show, no other changes seem to be coming down the pike, and there’s a good chance that the upcoming February show will look much like MAGIC’s August show.

Still, veteran vendors and retailers hope MAGIC will pursue some new directions. With a London-based owner, perhaps MAGIC could bring in more international retailers, some said.

Others said that they hoped that MAGIC would take steps to add more definition to its shows’ identities.

Gillian Julius has exhibited her self-named luxe jewelry and accessories brand, Gillian Julius, atENKVegas since before MAGIC acquired it in 2013. She hopes that the company will take more steps to create clearly delineated boundaries between the shows. “The way the mix is now, ENK is attracting a customer who is no longer the right customer, and [vendors] are spending half of the show defending their price points. We never had these issues before,” she said.

Gila Leibovitch, who is a co-owner of The Vault group of stores in Laguna Beach, Calif., is a veteran attendee of MAGIC and the satellite shows. She said that she was not sure what UBM will do with its new property, but she hopes that MAGIC will turn into a more compact show. “I’d like to see the entire venue under one big roof. It is so hard for us buyers to jump from venue to venue and have enough time to see everything in a few days,” she said of running from the MAGIC shows at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, to other MAGIC shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center, located toward the north end of the often congested Strip.