December 11, 2017

Celebrating 40 years of Optrafair

Turn the clock back to 1978. The minority Government of the day survived a vote of confidence, there was panic buying of bread and Gordon McQueen became the UK’s first £500,000 footballer. It was also the first time a new optometry show called Optrafair was held in London.

Now fast-forward 40 years. Whether today’s Government would survive a vote of confidence is up for debate, the only bread shortage is through choice in the cupboards of calorie counting carb-dodgers and £500,000 barely buys you the big toe of a Premier League footballer. Optrafair, however, is still going strong.

A partnership between the FMO and Optician, Optrafair is preparing to celebrate its 40th year. The event has now grown to become the UK’s major optical showcase, seen throughout the profession as the launch pad for all that is new in the field, championing innovation and celebrating advances in technology and manufacturing.

For four decades an entire community of practitioners, suppliers and educators have chosen Optrafair to help eye care professionals expand their knowledge through CET, ground-breaking new products and services and grow their businesses.

Optrafair 2018 promises to be a celebration of optics. It’s a gathering of friends and family. It’s a birthday bash. It’s a party. And everyone’s invited.

One man who knows Optrafair better than most is Andy Yorke. The FMO chairman has been going to the event for 38 years and he has seen it grow and evolve into the glittering, vibrant, forward-thinking showcase it is today.

He said: “Optrafair has united the British optical industry since 1978, continually building on its heritage to support every sector across the industry.

For leading brands, and for newer companies aiming to get a foothold on the market, Optrafair is without doubt the leading exhibition for the UK optical industry.

It is trusted by everyone who works in the industry – eye care professionals, manufacturers, laboratories, suppliers and distributors, professional bodies and educators.

There’s always something new emerging out there and Optrafair is the best possible place to keep up to date with what’s trending in the world of frames, how lens technology is ever evolving and how science is allowing us to gain an even greater understanding of the human eye.”

Optrafair was first held in London in 1978. While its overall offering has changed beyond recognition since then, it has always tried to stay true to its ethos of ‘by the sector, for the sector’.

It is a non-profit organisation. All surpluses from Optrafair are ploughed back for the benefit of the sector.

It is inclusive. It recognises that not everyone is willing to travel to London for an exhibition – and the switch to Birmingham the catalyst for bringing together the profession more effectively than ever before.

The NEC has proved to be the perfect venue, with 70 per cent of the English population able to reach it within 75 minutes and a purpose-built hall that’s capable of staging the product launches, educational seminars and fashion shows that combine to make Optrafair the number one event of its kind in the country.

Last year’s Optrafair ushered in a brand-new era for the event, revitalised, vibrant and full of energy. Optrafair 2018 will take this to the next level, brimming with new exhibitors, features and exclusive content you will not find at any other UK show.

In addition to an unrivalled selection of exhibitors, showcasing the latest equipment, frames and solutions and CET accredited education and business training, Optrafair 2018 will provide a feast of dedicated features covering all aspects of practice life.

Back by popular demand are the CET Theatre, ABDO CET Theatre, Window Dressing, and after their successful inauguration at this year’s show, the Business Theatre and FMO Networking Bar.

Meanwhile, there are three brand new features for 2018, the dedicated Contact Lens Hub, a fully choreographed Catwalk and the Independents’ Lounge– a networking space dedicated to independents offering one-to-one access to guest speakers.

Optrafair will take place between April 14 and 16 at the NEC in Birmingham. For more information, and to register for the event, visit

About the organisers

Optrafair is brought to you by the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians, MA Exhibitions and Optician magazine, combining some of the most respected organisations serving the optical market.

Notes to editors

For interviews, call Daniel Owens from Orange Juice Communications on 07909 916668 or email