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Brands spared pain of international trade show funding cuts

Footwear brands that successfully apply for support to exhibit at European and US trade shows next season will still receive grants of £1,500-£2,000 each, despite the announcement last month of government funding cuts.

Following negotiations with government body UK Trade & Investment, the British Footwear Association has been able to avoid cutting the value of grants as previously feared. All grants will be paid at the full value of £1,500 for those exhibiting in Europe and £2,000 for the US between January and March.

Last month Drapers revealed the UKTI planned to cut the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) grants by around £1m for the fourth quarter of the current financial year, to April, which was expected to reduce the individual grants by a few hundred pounds each. It ring-fenced the money so the trade associations could not re-allocate their existing budgets.

Organisations including the BFA and UK Fashion & Textile Association warned the cuts would “drastically limit” their ability to provide grants to those exhibiting autumn 15 ranges abroad.

Now the UKTI has allowed trade associations to re-allocate the funding, which means the BFA has been able to shift some money towards its key events, including Micam Milan, Platform and Sole Commerce.

“We went back [to the UKTI] and said it’s not easy to work with these numbers, but it would be easier if we could move monies around from show to show,” explained BFA chief executive John Saunders. “If people were given the choice of Europe, US and China, I think they would go to the markets they know, so we took some money from the China budget and re-allocated it.

“The good news is that we now expect to be able to allocate grants to all brands booked to show with us at all key autumn 15 events. In addition the BFA has been able to avoid cutting the value of grants.

“We have also been able to negotiate a little additional key event funding from UKTI, and the BFA has decided to try support the event programme in place for autumn 15 with additional direct investment.”

Saunders said the association will continue to lobby the UKTI over the future of the TAP programme.

A spokeswoman for the UKTI said: “UKTI has substantially increased the budget and range of support it allocates to its trade show, events and missions programmes since this government came to power, and this year we will support over 50,000 companies at international events and trade shows.

“UKTI is committed to delivering cost effective, high value services that will increase the number of British businesses exporting while delivering greatest value for money. These are kept under review to assess cost efficiency and best value for our customers. As part of our standard review process, we have decided to make a very slight reduction to this year’s TAP budget. This is a fraction of the total UKTI spend on events and missions.

“Grants that have already been awarded are unaffected and we are in discussion with accredited trade organisations to ensure British businesses continue to be well supported on the international stage.”

The BFA’s application window for the January and February 2015 shows – including Micam Milan and Expo Riva – has now closed, but brands can still apply this week to attend Platform, Sole Commerce and GDS in Dusseldorf. Applications for Micam Shanghai are not yet open.  

BFA will not support anyone to attend Project Sole, the men’s footwear show in New York, next season.

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