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Government slashes international trade show support

Funding for UK businesses looking to expand internationally by attending overseas trade shows has been heavily reduced for the next season, Drapers understands.

It is thought the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) grants, which are provided by government body UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to support SME exporters, have been cut by around £1m for the fourth quarter of the current financial year running to April.

TAP funding supports members of trade bodies including the British Footwear Association and the UK Fashion and Textile Association to grow their international business by attending overseas fairs or events. It includes ‘enhanced funding’ available for marketing and support programmes to promote the British fashion and footwear industry at key international shows.

Around £11.8m was originally provided for the whole year – equivalent to just under £3m per quarter. Trade bodies were told of the £1m cut to the next quarter’s funding last week.

The move will hit those hoping to attend international trade shows between January and March 2015 to show ranges for the autumn 15 season.

The UKTI has not responded to Drapers’ request for a comment.

The BFA said it would “inevitably mean there will be fewer grants available”. A spokesman added: “This is challenging situation and at short notice we are now having to look carefully at grants and all our plans for the January to March 2015 exhibition programme.  

“Our aim is to defend as much of our programme and support as is possible, but it is not going to be easy.”

This is the second cut the BFA has had to absorb this financial year; in September 2013 its TAP funding was reduced by around 30% for 2014.

“Through carefully considered changes to plans, the BFA was able to minimise the effect [of the first round of cuts] while still delivering a comprehensive programme of support,” the spokesman added. “While this round of cuts bite deeper making decisions and changes harder, the BFA will again do its best to reduce the impact of these further budget reduction on our exhibitors and events.

“We are already looking at ways we may potentially be able to use our own resources to minimise the effect of the cuts while discussions continue with other trade association colleagues, UKTI and the government.”

Sponsor Alliance – the trade association for trade associations – wrote to the UKTI on Friday requesting an immediate review of the funding cuts.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Question to ask please.
    Do the Italians, French, Spanish, Germans etc have Export subsidies to show at Foreign Exhibitions?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The cutting of Government funding for UK brands heading overseas beggars belief (and see Eric’s editorial comment). Alongside the review sought by Sponsors Alliance, affected brands should be lobbying their MPs and contemplating making Freedom of Information Act requests to discover what was really involved in UK Trade & Invest’s “review of all our programmes to ensure they are more effective”.

    It is also worth bearing in mind that not so many years ago Culture minister Ed Vaizey was reported as apologising to the BFC when the Treasury left London Fashion Week short of funding.

    A case of lightning striking twice?

    Stephen Sidkin
    Fashion Law Group
    Fox Williams LLP

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