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6 May 2014

QUALITY REIGNS SUPREME AT PLASA FOCUS: LEEDS 2014

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The anticipation that preluded the sixth PLASA Focus - Leeds delivered everything it promised, with two-days of packed show floors and seminar rooms. A total of 2107 visitors flooded into the Leeds' Royal Armouries, drawn by a showcase of professional sound, lighting, video, trussing and staging companies, plus an education programme that spanned the industry's expertise.

A mixture of quality, variety and enthusiasm combined to create the unmistakable atmosphere that the show has become renowned for. "We really enjoy PLASA Focus," says Michael Brooksbank, European General Manager, Chauvet Professional. "It's a small, intimate, networking show, it doesn't cost us a significant amount of money, which always helps, and we get instant returns."

Martin Professional's UK Sales Director, Mike Walker, adds: "It's an important show for us. The international shows are really good for exactly that - international buyers and customers - and it's also a chance to get a lot of product in one place and do a really big show. PLASA Focus - Leeds is good for getting closer to people and talking to them. You actually get the chance to speak to people, rather than being rammed-out on an international trade show stand."

Arriving in the month after Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt, PLASA Focus: Leeds is recognised by many as the ideal platform for introducing new products to the UK market. This year, the show saw UK debuts from a range of manufacturers, including d&b audiotechnik, Meyer Sound (via Pro Audio Systems), Showtec Lighting (via Highlite), DAP Audio (via Highlite), Flare Audio (via Orbital Sound), RCF, MilTec UK, Chauvet Professional, Martin Professional, Yamaha Commercial Audio, SSL Live (via HD Pro Audio), Link Srl and Martin Audio.

For others, the show provided the right opportunity for introducing new business relationships. Visual Productions' Sales Manager, Zoe Castle, reveals: "This year our key aim was to introduce our new British distributor to the UK market. The company, Qeytek, started with us earlier this year and now we've spent the two days at PLASA Focus with Paul Turner, who's doing technical support, and introducing him to customers."

AVSL Group used PLASA Focus- Leeds to breathe life into an existing brand, as Group Brand Manager, Neil McDougall, explains: "The Adastra brand has been established for 60 years but out of the seven brands we do, it's the one that ticks along in the background and we felt it needed a bit more exposure. We feel this is the right platform. From an exhibitor point of view, it's been good. Yesterday, we were pretty much chatting to people all day. We met some of our existing customers, of course, as well as about 15 new leads."

Regardless of the individual objectives, the contingent of high-profile exhibitors seemed to be united by their affection for the show. "We do PLASA Focus every year and, especially today, the quality of the people on the stand and the quantity of people we've seen has been overwhelming," says Shaun Morgan, General Manager, Impact Products. "Essentially, we've not been able to cope with the amount of people coming on our stand. As far as I'm concerned, you couldn't ask for a better show."

Paul Hinkly, Managing Director, LMC Audio Systems adds: "It's the intensity - we're all thrust closely together, the customers as well. It's very easy for customers to visit, very easy for us to set-up quickly and so a lot of the hassle that's involved in some of the bigger exhibitions simply isn't here. We're all smiling, the customers are all smiling - it's as simple as that, I think."

Scott Wakelin, Business Development Manager, TC Group International comments: "I really like the vibe - that's why we keep coming back, to be honest. Because it's small, it's got a bit more character than some of the bigger shows we go to, which are very much about doing business. This is a much more friendly show - you see a lot of people chatting about things that aren't necessarily work-orientated. You get round to business in the end, but it does seem to have a much more laid back atmosphere."

PLASA Focus- Leeds has always placed a strong emphasis on education, and this year was no different. The Professional Development Programme welcomed leading lights from every corner of the entertainment technology industry, who presented the free to attend sessions. Day one featured experts from The Theatres Trust, Artistic Licence, Martin Audio, d&b audiotechnik, Wireless Solution, Audio-Technica, Allen & Heath, Total Solutions Group and UK Rigging.

Day two saw Soulsound's Darryn de la Soul take over the Bury Theatre, curating several sessions that had an overarching theme of 'Inspiring Excellence in Audio'. She comments: "Everything Soulsound does is about improving employability - we've tried to reflect that in the programme. "Soulsound collaborated with industry professionals from companies like Shure and Funktion-One. Sessions also ran in the Wellington Theatre, involving Audio-Technica, d&b audiotechnik, Martin Audio and The Backstage Centre, which delivered its Masterclass Taster session.

For one attendee, house engineer David Branning, the Professional Development Programme was a big draw: "I'm mainly here for the seminars. I've had a good time and I've learned a lot actually. It's always nice to hear new input, even though I've been in the game for a while."

Reflecting on PLASA Focus- Leeds 2014, Director of Events at PLASA, Christopher Toulmin, says: "This show has, once again, surpassed our expectations. As we look forward to taking PLASA Focus to some new locations later this year, we do so with confidence and with a belief that has been instilled by the people who make it what it is - the exhibitors and visitors. We'd like to give praise and gratitude to each and every person who contributed to PLASA Focus Leeds- 2014 and made it such a success."

PLASA Focus: Leeds 2015 will take place at the Royal Armouries, Leeds on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 May 2015. To see the photos from this year's event, please join the PLASA Focus: EU Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PlasaFocus.

The next PLASA Focus event will take place at the Reitz Arena, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore on 8 and 9 May 2014.

Two new PLASA Focus events will take place in Europe during 2014. PLASA Focus: Brussels will take place on 3 - 4 November 2014, and PLASA Focus: Glasgow on 2 - 3 December 2014. Any company interested in exhibiting at either event should contact David Westbrooke at PLASA Events - david.westbrooke@plasa.org

Notes to Editors:

PLASA is the lead professional body for businesses that supply technologies and services to the event, entertainment and installation industries. Operating from offices in Europe and North America, the Association provides business support services to its growing worldwide membership, writes industry standards, leads the development of qualifications and focuses on improving the business practices adopted by the industry. With over 1100 members worldwide, it represents one of the largest member networks in the industry.

PLASA also runs successful media and events divisions and is responsible for the industry-leading magazines Lighting&Sound International, Lighting&Sound America and Protocol and the PLASA Show in London, together with the European and North American regional PLASA Focus events.

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