Exhibition News March 2019 - Page 37

Feature “The UK is still a large market and a good opportunity, it’s not going to scare everyone away, but where is that breaking point?” – Rodney Hoinkes further.” Nicola Macdonald, EN editor: “Have exhibitors expressed any concerns?” RH: “At the moment, everyone is still going ahead. When it becomes a real cost in labour, preparation, and actual cost then that will potentially have a strong impact. The UK is still a large market and a good opportunity, it’s not going to scare everyone away, but where is that breaking point?” AH: “Within our membership they’re not reporting changes, the main reason being we haven’t left Europe yet. We haven’t even had to consider the fact that we might not leave with a free trade agreement or we might ‘crash out’, as the tabloids would say, on a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement. My feeling is that we’re 18 months to two years away from starting to see it affecting confidence in any market.” AA: “I would think the weakness of sterling might entice congresses, if they’re going to save against the pound.” MW: “The airshow is sold in pounds so for us that’s a great opportunity. We’re not feeling any effect, we’re ahead of where we were previously. We have yet to see any impact.” AH: “On the contractor side, it’ll become cheaper if somebody wants to build an exhibition stand or hire furniture, but that will be offset by the fact that probably about 80 per cent of our members’ raw materials are coming from outside of the UK. “A lot of them are still not in a position where they’ve grasped what that is going to mean. We’ve talked about a contingency of looking at a 20 per cent increase in the cost of raw materials, especially if we leave on WTO terms, but we don’t know. If we leave with an agreement then we are stuck with the currency difference, which is something that happens from time to time anyway. The issue would be leaving and continuing with a pound that’s weaker than it was, and then also entering into a system of WTO negotiation where we are paying increased tariffs on raw materials. NM: “Do you think the SMEs are in more danger than larger companies?” AH: “Massively, yes I do.” The perfect storm AH: “Every time we have contacted [the government] and asked for an update, there has been a woeful lack of information, apart from the fact they have many many websites full of really confusing information. “We were trying to map the perfect storm, where there were four things that needed to go wrong to prevent an international March — 37