23rd December, 2016.

British equestrian exports can expect a boost when BETA International opens next month.

The annual trade fair – at the NEC, Birmingham on 22 – 24 January – will see UK manufacturers and suppliers come under the scrutiny of the highest number of overseas buyers for many years.

Vale Bros – owner of Harry Dabbs saddles and Thermatex rugs - has exhibited at BETA International for 25 years.

The Walsall based manufacturer exports 70% of its total sales. “Over the years, BETA International has introduced us to half of these customers,” says Peter Wilkes, managing director.

Vale Bros is also home to Jeffries Saddlery, KBF99 grooming products and Edward Goddard whips.

The number of overseas buyers pre-booking to visit BETA International 2017 is more buoyant than ever, say organisers.

“There’s strong interest from visitors in our traditional markets of Europe, Scandinavia and the US,” said James Palmer of BETA International.

“We also have pre-booked visitors coming from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, Russia, Australia, Romania, Canada, South Korea, Estonia and Singapore.”

A full list of BETA International 2017 exhibitors can be found at where buyers can also pre-register to visit.


19th December, 2016.

Products by companies from 21 different nations will be displayed when BETA International 2017 opens next month.

To date, more than 270 exhibitors have booked for the show on 22 – 24 January.

And no less than 40% are international companies from outside the UK.

“This is every retailer’s chance to see hundreds of famous and undiscovered brands from around the world under one roof in Birmingham,” says James Palmer of BETA International.

As well as a myriad of stands displaying the latest new products and ideas, BETA International has a fashion show, innovation awards, business forum hosted by TV’s Alastair Stewart, CPD seminars for SQPs and retailers, and appearances by internet sensation Wocket Woy.

• BETA International is trade-only. Admission is free, visit for more details.

• See the official BETA International preview in the January issue of ETN.


19th December, 2016.

Equestrian manufacturers’ agent Tiger Davies has retired after more than 40 years in the trade.

Tiverton, Devon based Tiger says he’s had a “wonderful and hilarious time” visiting retailers across the south-west and beyond while representing various companies.

“I started my agency life on the road for the heavy smoking team at Lavenham and finished with the non-smoking Kanyon and Equetech,” he told ETN.

Tiger says he’s made many friends in the trade over the years.

“Most of my retail customers have been delightful, as for the others – a quick exit was often the best bet!”

• Read the full story in the January issue of ETN


19th December, 2016.

Game Fair 2017 organisers are offering members of BASC (the British Association for Shooting & Conservation) complimentary admission on all three days.

BASC, the UK’s largest shooting organisation, has a membership of more than 144,500.

An influx of visitors getting into the show for nothing – with more cash left in their pockets to spend - looks set to benefit traders.

The Game Fair is at Hatfield House – 21 miles north of central London - on Friday 28 to Sunday 30 July, 2017.

“The complimentary offer is open to BASC members on each and every day of the fair, so a member can visit on all three days if they wish,” said James Gower, managing director of The Game Fair.

BASC chairman Peter Glenser added: “I hope that as many BASC members as possible will take advantage of the complimentary entry to the event to make this a great celebration of all country sports.”

To gain entry to the Game Fair 2017, BASC members must produce a current membership card, plus photo ID such as a shotgun or firearms certificate, driving licence or passport.


14th December, 2016.

Lintbells has been listed in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 list.

The pet and equine supplements manufacturer has come in at number 61.

The list, published each December, ranks Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest-growing sales over their latest three years.

Flagged as ‘one to watch’ last year, the listing tops a successful year for Lintbells that also saw it win a Queen’s Award for Innovation.

The Hitchin, Herts based company, which employs more than 50 people, has seen sales growth of an average of 62% per year.

“We’re grateful to everyone who has taken the time to give us an amazing review, who has made the decision to stock, or recommended us to someone else,” said co-founder John Howie.

Lintbells Equine exhibits at BETA International 2017, at the NEC, Birmingham on 22 – 24 January.


13th December, 2016.

The office Christmas party season is in full swing. But before you and your staff let your hair down, take this quick quiz…

You are cordially invited…

So who do you invite to your office Christmas party?

Q: Do you:

1. Invite only those employees who profess the Christian faith - on the basis that, even today, there are some vestiges of its Christian origins?

2. Make sure everyone is invited regardless of religious belief (or absence of it), sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability and general appearance?

3. Invite only good looking members of staff and ignore the mingers?

4. Invite only those members of staff who are under 45 years of age?

Answer: Number 2, obviously. You would and should pay regard to the diversity of your workforce and make sure that everyone is invited. But at risk of sounding a Scrooge-like note, if you invite any agency staff who are working for you will increase the risk that they will later argue that they should be regarded as your employees! Ouch!

Secret Santa

A member of staff offers to organise a Secret Santa. You agree (of course) because it will provide added entertainment. The office ‘playboy’ approaches you privately and gives you a preview of the waxwork anatomical representation which he plans to foist upon an unsuspecting female member of staff.

Q: Do you:

1. Applaud his sense of humour?

2. Ask him for the name and address of the shop where he acquired it so that you can buy one too?

3. Warn him of the perils of bullying, harassment and sex discrimination?

4. Make a mental note to take your smart phone to the party so that you can record the look of surprise on the female employee’s face when she opens the parcel?

A: The answer is, of course, 3. Any argument that urging exotic lingerie or ‘adult toys’ upon colleagues is merely a species of innocent banter is simply threadbare. The test of harassment is substantially objective, so if the recipient of the unexpected gift is offended by it then both you and your ‘playboy’ employee are in trouble.

Eat, drink and be merry

It’s been a good year, so far, notwithstanding the doom-mongers' warnings of the consequences of Brexit. In an act of generosity, you are planning to offer a free bar.

Q: Do you:

1. Exhort members of staff to drink as much as they want?

2. Encourage drinking games and announce the holding of a ‘yard-of-ale’ competition?

3. Point out that soft drinks are available from the cloakroom tap and announce that the buffet will simply comprise crisps, on the basis that potatoes can be one of your five-a-day?

4. Encourage moderate drinking and ensure a plentiful supply of both soft drinks and food?

A: It has to be number 4. If you offer a free bar – and we are emphatically not saying that you shouldn’t – the abandonment of any control over alcohol intake is likely to lead to a raft of behavioural problems. Encourage moderation and be prepared to intervene if it looks as though an employee is becoming, as Private Eye would put it, “tired and emotional”.

Ballroom Blitz

Even in a well-ordered and well-organised Christmas party there is always the risk of an alcohol-fuelled physical or verbal altercation.

Q: Do you:

1. Make it clear to staff beforehand that ‘scrapping’ (physical or verbal) will not be tolerated?

2. Take bets on who will throw the first punch when there is the inevitable spat between the sales and marketing departments?

3. Make sure that a qualified first-aider is in attendance?

4. Console yourself with the thought that you were planning to re-carpet the office in January anyway?

A: The answer is number 1. We all know that fighting is unacceptable and you can be confident that, after following due process (of course) you would be able successfully to dismiss an employee involved in a fight. However, while you might be able fairly to dismiss the punch thrower, any victim of bad behaviour is likely to name you as well as the perpetrator in their Employment Tribunal claim.


What are your expectations regarding attendance in the office on the day after the party? If your employees have been liberal in their patronage of your free bar, this is likely to have an effect on the time they arrive in the office - or indeed on the question of whether they make it to the office at all!

Q: Do you:

1. Treat the day after as being the only day when your employees can work ‘flexi-time’?

2. Make it clear that employees are expected to attend work on time?

3. Make sure there is some alcohol left over for those who want to partake of ‘hair of the dog’?

4. Make sure that the waste-bins are empty for the benefit of those employees with really bad hangovers?

A: The answer is number 2. At any rate, you should at least be clear with your employees as to what your expectations are. You may decide that employees should be at work at their normal time. You may be inclined to say that the normal start time has been rolled back by an hour. However, above all, make your intentions clear and avoid a clash of expectations.

So how did you do?

• 5/5 – Well done! You are a model employer and should treat yourself to a Christmas gift!

• 4/5 – Not bad. You have a good grasp of employment law but should probably have a quick skim through your Employee Handbook before you start mulling wine.

• 3/5 – Could do better. You have at least 12 days of Christmas to learn how to handle a raucous office party.

• 2/5 – You should be concerned. You should ask Santa for an invitation to one of Blacks Solicitors’ employment law master classes to get up to speed with your obligations as an employer.

• 1/5 – Oh dear. There is a very real possibility that your Christmas party will make the front cover of one of the tabloids.

• 0/5 – The Employment Team at Blacks Solicitors is looking forward to the contribution which you are going to make to our fee income next year.

· If you need help with this or any other employment law issues, contact Paul Kelly at Blacks Solicitors on tel 0113 227 9249, email or visit


13th December, 2016.

Olympia gets underway this week (13-19 December). But if you miss the London show – or are working on a tradestand throughout - you can catch the highlights on Horse & Country TV.

In the week running up to Christmas, H&C TV will be showing the FEI World Cup Driving (Tuesday 20 December at 8.30pm), FEI World Cup Dressage (Tuesday 20 December at 9pm) and FEI World Cup Jumping (Wednesday 21 December at 9pm).

Top British names Carl Hester, Laura Tomlinson and Michael Eilberg will be in action in the dressage. Home-grown showjumping stars competing at Olympia include Scott Brash, Ben Maher and brothers John and Michael Whitaker.

In the New Year, H&C’s Olympia coverage continues with the Puissance (Saturday 7 January at 8pm) and the Olympia Grand Prix (Saturday 7 January at 9pm).


12th December, 2016.

A 20% discount on all orders of Sprenger bits, spurs and stirrups is on offer from Zebra Products.

The UK distributor of the premium German brand says it’s making the gesture to support retailers at a busy time of year – and has also thrown in free delivery throughout December.

In keeping with the Christmas spirit, they add, the saving can be passed onto consumers.

The 20% off Sprenger offer lasts until 17 January 2017.


8th December, 2016.

Charles Owen has moved quickly to quash rumours that the company is in trouble.

Gossip began circulating around the trade this week when notice of a creditors’ meeting was published.

“It’s very much business as usual at Charles Owen,” Roy Burek, managing director of the riding hat manufacturer, told ETN. “In fact we’ve probably had our best and busiest year ever.”

What will be a brief and temporary halt to business at Charles Owen & Company (Bow) Ltd following the creditors’ meeting next Friday (16 December), is the latest step in a succession planning process, Roy explained.

In time, his son Owen Burek (29), who is currently running other businesses, will join Charles Owen.

“It’s about adapting the way we do business, and anticipating adding a fresh perspective by involving the next generation,” added Roy.

Charles Owen, the UK’s largest equestrian manufacturer, employs 156 people at its factory in Wrexham. The staff have been informed of the latest developments.

Charles Owen exhibits at BETA International next month.


7th December, 2016.

Matchmakers International has received £3.75m of funding from Bibby Financial Services (BFS).

Bradford, West Yorkshire based Matchmakers International owns the Cottage Craft, Masta, Harry Hall, Tottie and Caldene brands.

The funding package will provide working capital and support the business’s import activity.

• Read the full story and find out what Matchmakers’ new funding involves in ETN January issue.


6th December, 2016.

Snowhill Ltd will be despatching orders between Christmas and New Year.

The wholesaler closes for the Christmas break from 5pm on 22 December and re-opens on 3 January, 2017.

However, a few of helpful elves are coming in on Wednesday 28 December (until 3pm) to despatch any website orders.

These should reach retailers within Snowhill’s usual delivery times.

“Get your orders in, keep your shelves stocked and we will do our best to clear all orders on the website (placed before 2.30pm on 28 December),” says Snowhill’s chief elf.

“Happy Christmas!”


6th December, 2016.

When NAF challenged retailers to create eye-catching in-store displays of its branded products - and be in with a chance of winning VIP tickets to Badminton, dozens of entries poured in.

The competition was judged by Lorna George, NAF’s UK sales and business development manager, and NAF supported rider and Irish Olympic eventer Jonty Evans.


Carrs Billington Morpeth, Northumberland.
Who’s on the team? Natalie Lynn, Cheryl Holmes and Alison Robson.
Top display tips: Offering customers availability and choice of product; plus having the stand in a good shop location.
Best-selling NAF product: Five Star Superflex
Judges’ comments: A really well planned display using the power of NAF’s category colour blocking and strong branding to grab consumers’ attention and help them choose their products. We especially liked the great use of the NAF range of products to create a display with real wow factor.
Prizes: VIP tickets to Badminton plus NAF jackets and polo shirts for the team.


The Tack Shop, Kingswinford, Dudley, West Midlands.
Who’s on the team? Sally Marsh, Julie Shakespeare, Jane Shakespeare and Mitchell Corbett.
Top display tips: Having good products on display and making them eye-catching to customers. Good product knowledge is important too; we get lots of customers in our store asking for advice on various situations and problems. We like to think we always do our very best to help and sell them the correct product.
Best-selling NAF product: Himalayan Salt Lick / Glucosamine 10,000 Plus
Judges’ comments: A clear product display which optimises the use of available space.
Prizes: NAF jackets and polo shirts for the team.


Carrs Billington Penrith, Cumbria.
Who’s on the team: Claire Cowx, Scott Wilson, Peter Allison and Jen Cowan.
Top display tips: Make it eye-catching and put it in a prominent position in your store.
Best-selling NAF product: Love the SKIN he’s in
Judges’ comments: A bright, attractive display with good additional creative effects which draw attention and capitalise on NAF’s colourful labelling.
Prizes: NAF jackets for the team.


Country Ways, Aberdeen
Who’s on the team? Lucy James, Morven Dodds and Taylor Manson.
Top display tips: Think outside the box and keep it interesting with a main focal feature. Use good, clear PoS [point of sale material] and a wide representation of product.
Best-selling NAF product: Five Star Superflex
Judges’ comments: We were particularly impressed with this very creative and unique use of a shop window offering a great opportunity to draw attention to the NAF brand. Other entrants did not necessarily have such a wonderful shop window. So to maintain a level playing field, we gave this super display a special award.
Prizes: NAF polo shirts for the team.

• See the December issue of ETN for pictures of the winning displays and teams who created them.


6th December, 2016.

Most visitors come to BETA International on the hunt for new products.

The show at the NEC, Birmingham on 22 – 24 January has celebrity appearances, chances to learn and even some entertainment too.

Saturday morning internet sensation Wocket Woy appears live when jump jockeys Mattie Batchelor and Marc Goldstein bring their own brand of humour to BETA International.

Education takes centre stage at the Charles Owen Hub.

The business platform – which is new for 2017 - will stage product demonstrations, seminars and Talking Business – the B2B discussion hosted by ITV newscaster Alastair Stewart on Sunday, 22 January.

BETA International visitors can listen, learn and earn CPD points during CPD modules for SQPs on Sunday 22 January and Tuesday 24 January.

Retailers seeking inspiration for improving the visual impact of their stores will find two 30 minute sessions on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 January useful.

In other seminars, Sylvia Rook, of the Trading Standards Institute, will address the rights and obligations of consumers and traders when buying and selling goods.

And BETA executive director Claire Williams will conduct a CPD seminar on rider safety.

Buyers can see the latest collections on the Equi-Thème Fashion Show catwalk. Ekkia, Finest Brands International, Tredstep Ireland, Albert Kerbl, Horseware Ireland, Musto, FITS Riding, Derriere Equestrian and Baleno are set to take part.

The search for new products starts for many buyers at the Shires New Product Gallery. The area showcases the latest lines, launches and brands and sits at heart of BETA International.

Visiting BETA International is free on pre-registration at