The OFT ruled that the committee was not guilty of "significantly affecting competition overall" by refusing Forest Edge Nurseries' repeated applications to exhibit. In a letter to Edge, the OFT said: "Although you are unable to acquire exhibitor space, consumers can still view heather at the Woking show as well as at other shows, nurseries or retailers. It therefore seems that the actions of the Woking show's organisers in refusing to exhibit your product do not appear to significantly affect competition overall. We will not be taking any further action in relation to your concerns at this time."
Edge responded: "The exhibitors are selected by the committee and therefore the impression given that this is a show open to any grower to exhibit from the southern region is totally misconceived and significantly no information is made available by the committee to inform those attending that the show is a restricted event."
He said he would now exhibit at the National Plant Show (NPS) but would continue to apply to exhibit at Woking in future. "The NPS gives myself and other growers the opportunity of exhibiting, on a fair and equal basis at a time of year that suits our requirements," he added. "While Woking is geographically ideally located for many of our customers, the HTA has provided increased publicity/coverage of the new show to those in the trade and I anticipate that the central location will provide the opportunity to meet with potential new buyers."
The Woking show committee declined to comment.