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Merger of BPMA and PROMOTA to happen at last

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.

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