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Archive for April, 2010

BPMA-PROMOTA merger hits the buffers again

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

It’s on, it’s off, it’s on and now it’s off again. The merger between the two leading associations in the British promotional products industry – the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) and PROMOTA (Promotional Merchandise Trade Association) – has been derailed once more, as PROMOTA has postponed the EGM due to take place today, 27 April.

This latest delay is just one in a long series of problems encountered in getting this industry association merger off the ground. The politics and personalities involved have reached such a tense state that many industry pundits think this marriage – which was due to begin on 1 May – will never come off.

In response to the postponement, Gill Thorpe, Chairperson of the BPMA, has posted a detailed history of recent negotiations on the BMPA website, which is prefaced with the following statement:

“As your Chairwoman I feel I owe it to you to respond to the inaccurate statement released yesterday by PROMOTA. ‘Subject: EGM postponed due to lack of information’. Sadly, the communication within PROMOTA between its secretariat, solicitor and treasurer has caused an inaccurate statement to be communicated to the market. For correctness we would like to clarify these inaccuracies and copies of all communication between parties is available. The BPMA await a formal apology from PROMOTA with regard to this statement.”

Oh dear. If you thought this was a marriage made in heaven, don’t buy your hat just yet!

Gadget Show is just the job

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Upper Street Events, organisers of the Gadget Show Live exhibition, are toasting the success of the 2010 event, held at the NEC from 7-11 April, and already planning an even bigger show next year.

Back in February, the organisers expanded the show from 2 to 4 halls and extended its run from 3 to 5 days. Having sold out from Thursday to Sunday, the trade and press day was opened up for a public preview on the afternoon of April 7.

The exhibition welcomed over 66,000 visitors – more than double the number attending the inaugural show last year. Visitor bags for the show were supplied by The Corporate Carrier Company for Event Director, Matt Hodgins.

Commenting on the show’s success, Mr Hodgins said, “We extended the event to include a dedicated half day for the trade and a further one and a half days for the general public. We have been delighted with the response. Exhibitors are telling us that they have achieved record sales and feedback from visitors has been outstanding. Next year will bring a whole day for the trade and press and five full days of public admission with 15 Super Theatre performances. We have an option on growing the show into an additional hall and we are looking at a number of very interesting options that will add even more exciting and interactive content to the show.”

Upper Street Events ordered 43,500 flexiloop polythene bags sized 15 x 18 x 3 inches for the show, printed in 4-colour process on one side and two spot colours on the other.

Next year’s Gadget Show Live will take place from April 12-17.

UK promotional industry battered by the recession

Friday, April 9th, 2010

It’s not that surprising but it is rather sad to hear of figures issued by the BPMA recently that show just how badly the UK’s promotional industry has been battered by the storm of the global downturn. 2009 witnessed another large rise in the number of companies ceasing trading, with both distributors and suppliers hit – but distributors definitely feeling more of the pain.

The number of distributor firms going to the wall per annum rose by over 450% between 2006 and 2009, jumping from 32 to 181 companies (a staggering 10% of the market). For suppliers, the number ceasing trading during the year rose by almost 100%, from 28 in 2006 to 53 in 2009.

The overall worth of the UK’s promotional merchandise market has also taken a hit – down to an estimated £722 million, from over £1 billion just a couple of years ago.
Some high profile distributors have fallen victim to the economic turmoil, including CMC (for many years the third largest distributor in the country), Non Stop Promotions & PPAG – the latter two having dealt the blow of large debts to several supplier firms.

What is the forecast for those – like The Corporate Carrier Company – who have managed to weather the storm? We do seem to be seeing some green shoots in the promotional products industry but – and it’s a big but – the marketplace is very different to that experienced a few years back. It’s significantly smaller, of course, and it’s full of clients with value for money at the top of their shopping list. But, as ever, there’s always quality of service to differentiate suppliers from one another…

Merger of BPMA and PROMOTA to happen at last

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The two leading associations in the British promotional products industry – the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) and PROMOTA (Promotional Merchandise Trade Association) – appear to have patched up differences over their merger plans. The fact that negotiations have reopened on the tie-up was announced in a statement from the boards of the two organisations, with the target date for the merger set at 1st May.

The announcement came at PROMOTA’s annual dinner on 1st March, held at the end of the first day of the 2010 PROMOTA Show. A subsequent press release included the following statement:

“After extensive discussions we all feel that the interests of our industry would best be served by a merger of the two trade bodies to create one strong, robust association that represents our industry all the way through the supply chain.”.

Marriage plans were shelved back in December when a letter from PROMOTA to its members suggested that the BPMA was financially weak and yet wanted to be top dog in the new organisation, which will have some 1,250 members.

PROMOTA’s chairman, Rod Duncan, wrote in that pre-Christmas letter:

“Over the past few months there have been a series of negotiations and information exchanges in respect of a potential merger with the BPMA. Regrettably, the BPMA have not provided all the necessary information to enable a positive decision to be taken. However, the information given is a cause for concern. Utilising information received, the financial impact of a merger has been analysed. The outcome does not make pleasant reading. To assist your understanding, we attach a series of graphs that need no further explanation as to where the industry association may find itself and what may happen to our cash reserves if a merger is supported.”

Gill Thorpe, Chairperson of the BPMA, responded with a letter to her own association’s membership, stating:

“The board of the BPMA has a vision for the future and whilst we may not have lots of excess money in the bank – we have achieved so much over the last few years for our members. We are a not for profit organisation – our strong belief is that our members’ money should be spent on delivering the best services, support and promotion that we can.”

There were strong words in this spat between Mr Duncan and Ms Thorpe, so it’s likely that the path to final merger will be a rocky one. Right now, the two associations are giving the impression that it’s a bed of roses in the promotional industry garden. The BPMA has even created a micro-site to “try to convey the reasons why the BPMA board believe a merger between the BPMA and PROMOTA is in the best interests of the current PROMOTA and BPMA members, and for the future of the industry as a whole”.

Given the history of the merger negotiations, this may not be a marriage made in heaven. However, once the personalities are removed from the equation, it makes a lot of sense for the organisations to merge to provide a stronger voice for the promotional industry.