After much anticipation, UK optics can finally look forward to a single, unified trade show when 100% Optical throws open its doors at the Excel in London’s Docklands (April 23-25).

Despite finding itself in the busiest international trade show calendar the industry has ever seen, the event has secured around 200 exhibitors from across the sector. 100% Optical has also teamed up with the optical associations to lay on a huge programme of education, lectures and workshops. Add to this the organisers’ ability to bring youth, flair and showbiz to an event and its stacked up to look like a date not to miss.

It’s almost two years since the optical industry unhitched itself from Optrafair and agreed with 100% to create ‘much-needed security and clarity’ through a single UK event. The Covid-19 pandemic prevented us from seeing what that looked like in practice so now it’s all eyes on this year’s show. 100% must prove to the optical industry, and its exhibitors, that it can carry that mantle, but it needs the profession’s support. Covid may have created a concertina-effect on the international trade show scene but for the first time in a long time there’s an opportunity for the UK to converge on a single event. That chance of success is heightened by the desire among optical professionals to meet each other face-to-face, catch up with old friends and network with a few friends-to-be.

There’s a sense of déjà vu for UK optics to have an exclusive optical show in the spring. For some it will be a relief, for others a delicious irony, but for all of us it should be a chance to learn from our mistakes and build back better.