William Reed's purchase of Food and Drink Expo and the Convenience Retailing show was the big talking point as the fairs opened to record first day attendances at the NEC on Sunday. Visitors and exhibitors alike described the deal as a positive step which would bring a new dimension to the UK exhibition business. And it was not only in Birmingham where the move was welcomed. The Grocer has since received congratulatory messages from food companies as far afield as Los Angeles, Atlanta (Georgia), Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Auckland and Buenos Aires. At the NEC, Kurt Bettin, UK director of the CMA, central marketing organisation of the German food and drink industries, said: "This is great news. To have The Grocer, the most important grocery magazine, behind the shows augurs well. It will encourage many more new exhibitors." David McNair, chief executive of Food from Britain said: "William Reed will do Expo a great deal of good. The deal will put the show onto the international stage." His comments were echoed by Trevor Dixon, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, who said: "We're delighted. We look forward to working with Wm Reed to make the CRS bigger and better in future years." The news was also welcomed by suppliers at the show. Richard Burdekin, UK md of Zwanenberg, the Dutch meats company, commented: "It's a very positive step. An association with The Grocer, the magazine with a deep understanding of the industry, means the shows will tap into a wider range of expertise." And Barbara Green, events and exhibition executive for the Welsh Development Agency's Food Directorate, said: "The backing of the William Reed publications means the shows will be more focused, and they will certainly be better supported." As The Grocer went to Press on Thursday first estimates suggested attendance at the two shows was "well up" on two years ago. {{NEWS }}