Suppliers count cost of expo cancellations

Global exhibition industry association UFI has warned that at least €23bn-worth of business has not been concluded due to the cancellation and postponement of shows and expos worldwide.

Coronavirus crisis has hit exhibitions hard
Coronavirus crisis has hit exhibitions hard

The association said that more than 500 trade shows had not taken place in recent weeks due to the coronavirus crisis, with more than 220 of those in Europe.

In the printing industry this month's planned Fespa Global Expo has been postponed with a new date yet to be confirmed, while Sign & Digital UK 2020 has been cancelled. 

The knock-on effect for suppliers to the sector, including event graphics, stands and signage, and collateral is being felt keenly in the printing industry.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday, Hollywood Monster chairman Tim Andrews said that last week the Birmingham large-format print specialist had started receiving “one phone call after another” about jobs that were being cancelled, and had been forced to put staff on short-time working as a result.

He told Printweek: “We are certainly not on our own – everyone is being affected by this. We are being honest and transparent and holding daily meetings with staff as we reassess the situation.”

Andrews said that £200,000 of work had been cancelled or postponed, and the firm had initially cut the working week of its 75 staff from 40 hours to 20 with a staggered shift pattern. However, it is now planning to increase this to meet demand in other areas of the business.

“Flexible working is key,” he added.

Andrews said he hoped today's budget would include measures such as tax reliefs to help firms cope with the drop-off in business.

MacroArt managing director Michael Green described the situation was “unprecedented”.

“We are very fortunate as we are diversified into different markets. But this is an unprecedented situation and we have to look at every single option we can take and trick we can play. We’re exploring all options.”

He said he would like to see the chancellor introduce some flexibility on VAT payments and aid for cashflow, to help firms ride out the Covid-19 storm.

St Neots-based MacroArt recently agreed a new £3.3m working capital facility with Independent Growth Finance after outgrowing its initial MBO funding.

A fresh alliance of events related bodies, including the UFI, has also launched a campaign “Our events are open for business” highlighting that many events are still taking place successfully around the world.

At the time of writing chancellor Rishi Sunak was in the process of unveiling a £30bn package to help businesses get through the coronavirus crisis.


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