Future format of turf care trade shows up for debate after exhibitors call for rethink

The future format of turf care trade shows was opened up for debate at the British & International Greenkeepers Association's (BIGGA) BTME, which took place in Harrogate this week.

BIGGA departing chief executive John Pemberton invited exhibitors to discuss the issue at a meeting yesterday. The move followed calls from some exhibitors for a merger of BTME and IoG Saltex - held in Windsor in September.

He told them: "In a changing economic climate, it is imperative that marketing expenditure is as effective as possible and that exhibitions serve the needs of the exhibitor, visitor and organiser."

The "big five"

- Toro, John Deere, Ransomes Jacobsen, Kubota and Hayter - missed BTME this year to attend Saltex instead. Former "big six" member Sisis showed at BTME with Dennis, after Dennis bought the company. Dennis is believed to favour two shows. The issue may reach a crux before Saltex takes place without the big companies in September 2012.

John Deere turf equipment division manager David Hart said: "We want an event every two years. There's not enough to talk about for one a year. It should be in the middle of the country and attract a Europe-wide customer base."

Kubota sales and marketing manager David Blackwood added: "Like every other manufacturer, we're under considerable pressure with advertising and promotional costs. We're interested in anything that will reduce that."

The Agricultural Engineers Association will also hold a meeting on 3 February to discuss the issue. BIGGA communications manager Scott MacCallum said BTME will return in 2011 despite shrinking to three halls this year from four in 2010. But BIGGA was disappointed some companies did not have the budget to attend BTME 2011. He said a "body of opinion was looking at one show to replace ourselves and Saltex" and confirmed that BIGGA and the Institute of Groundsmanship (IoG) were in ongoing discussions on the issue.

An IoG representative said Saltex was going ahead on 6-8 September and the institute would only issue statements jointly with BTME on a possible future merger of shows.

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