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UKFT Update on the new UK Tradeshow Programme

27/04/2022

The new UK Tradeshow Programme from the Department for International Trade (DIT) aims to help companies understand how to use international tradeshows. The main focus of the scheme is on education. It is a pilot programme and many restrictions apply.

There are two elements to the “new” UK Tradeshow Programme (UKTP).

  1. Attend” (or Visit): For companies with a minimum turnover of £83,000, subject to successful application they may be eligible for one offer of support comprising: –

1 grant of £200 to visit a tradeshow on an agreed programme

And

Pre-event training on trade shows in general and on the specific event applied for

  1. Exhibit”: For companies with a minimum turnover of £250,000, subject to successful application they may be eligible for one offer of support either: –

1 grant of up to £4,000 (usually £2000) and to take part in a tradeshow on an agreed programme

Or

1 offer of training on trade shows in general and for the specific approved event applied for

Outside the UK Tradeshow Programme, it is also hoped that there will be an element of what UKFT is currently calling “wrap-around” support from DIT to enable us to help companies to apply for the right shows for their collections and to support and promote them in advance of the show and on the ground.

How will it work?

The event selection, promotion and eligibility for support is handled by DIT. (UKFT will also promote the availability of support and the cut-off date for applications to its database and in its newsletter). The events are listed on the UK Tradeshow Programme website. Applications for support are open six weeks before the start of the event and the application process is online via the DIT events portal only.

The application will ask for a lot of detail about the company, its export strategy, whether it is already committed to show (in which case it will be automatically ineligible) and DIT will decide whether the company is eligible to take part in the event and whether support will be offered.

UKFT will be informed of DIT’s decision but may not necessarily be consulted on either the selection and number of the events/sectors/subsectors to be covered or, indeed, the companies’ suitability for the show or market. UKFT has a very strong working relationship with DIT Sector group so we expect to inform some of these decisions but our industry traditionally works best with a large number of smaller niche events covering multiple markets and sub-sectors, which is not on offer under UKTP.

The key events where we expect there to be UKFT support in 2022/3 FY are:

  • Pitti Uomo (not Bimbo) Florence, June 2022 (now closed for applications) and January 2023
  • Paris Men’s Fashion Week and Pre-collections, June 2022 (now closed for applications) and January 2023 – including Tranoi Homme, MAN, Splash!Paris and a selection of showrooms

Applications not yet live but expected soon:

  • Première Vision Textiles , July 2022 and February 2023 – apparel textiles and textile design
  • Paris Women’s Fashion Week, September 2022 and March 2023 – including Premiere Classe Tuileries, Tranoi Femme, Woman Paris, Splash!Paris and a selection of showrooms
  • Heimtextil Frankfurt, January 2023 – interior textiles
  • Pitti Uomo (not Bimbo) Florence, January 2023
  • Paris Men’s Fashion Week and Pre-collections, January 2023 – including Tranoi Homme, MAN, Splash!Paris and a selection of showrooms

Only these events (and their respective sub-sectors) are supported under UKTP and the DIT Wrap-Around support. There are currently no supported shows for childrenswear, lingerie or technical textiles. No shows are currently supported outside the EU, which means there is currently no planned DIT fashion and textile tradefair activity in the US or in any of the UK’s new Trade Agreement markets. UKFT continues to try to change this.

For some companies in England, if they are outside the major conurbations such as London and Manchester, there may be some limited Internationalisation Fund grants available. Please see UKFT’s separate note on this funding.

However, UKFT has maintained relationships with all its non-supported shows and continues to work with them even without grant support. If you would like information about shows, please email: paul.alger@ukft.org

Key Areas of Concern

Based on our initial understanding of the scheme, we have raised the following concerns with the Minister:

  • The “Fewer, bigger, better” policy chosen by government could potentially leave important markets, sectors and sub sectors behind
  • The new UKTP will focus only on the “capacity building” (in other words “educational”) role of tradeshows, but other budgets will be needed for the “wrap-around” funding to create groups in the first place and join the scheme up.
  • Limiting UKTP eligibility to companies across all industries to a minimum turnover of £83,000 (to visit) or min. £250,000 (to show) with a ceiling of £5 million may discourage companies who need to start earlier or later than that, depending on the industry and market they are in.
  • 1 grant per company compared with the previous 6 grants (under TAP) will not encourage companies to expand into new higher-risk markets.
  • DIT recognises that It needs the involvement of industry bodies to drive exports but the new scheme does not make this easy in its current format
  • There are some very long and complicated documents to be completed by applicants and trade bodies including a 37 page contract.

 

UKFT’s vision for a new Tradeshow Programme Scheme

UKFT sees strong UK groups at key international tradeshows with a wider and holistic export strategy to get companies to market as a key pivot in the campaign to rebuild the economy after Covid and make a success of Brexit.

Our industry and our association have a good understanding of trade shows, key markets and the importance of exports and believe we can demonstrate that it is the constant changes of government schemes and low budgets which hold our exporters back, compared with our competitors from other countries.

UKFT believes that tradeshows and sectoral missions when used together are a powerful tool to help smaller companies to start out in exports and larger companies to enter new markets.

UKFT believes that government and industry should be working together to get the best joined-up deal for exporters and is committed to working with government to make this happen.

Background: The Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) was cancelled in 2021

In July 2021, the Department for International Trade (DIT) announced it had cancelled the UK’s popular and highly effective Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP).

A few months later, the new Secretary of State for International Trade and the new Export Minister announced the new “UK Tradeshow Programme” (UKTP) to support exporters and to help the UK to build new commercial relationships around the world. Industry bodies including UKFT welcomed this news.

At the same time, it was announced that the new scheme would be concentrating on “fewer, bigger, better”. For fashion and textile companies this potentially means that fewer events will be supported in fewer markets, potentially covering fewer sub-sectors.

The new UKTP scheme is intended as a pilot and UKFT and other trade bodies are engaging constructively with DIT at Ministerial level to make it work for UK exporters.

History of Tradeshow Support Schemes

Over the years, many fashion and textile companies have successfully used the TAP scheme (or its predecessors) to launch their businesses and to become international fashion names, including Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Harris Tweed Hebrides, Margaret Howell, Nigel Cabourn, Simon Carter, Reiss, Alex Begg , Orla Kiely, Gola, Tateossian, Joshua Ellis, Kangol, Raeburn, The Cambridge Satchel Company, Curvy Kate, Heidi Klein, Komodo, Alex Monroe, Trickers, French Connection, Troubadour Goods, Liberty Fabrics and Universal Works to name but a few. In addition, the old TAP scheme enabled UKFT to work with and support larger companies not receiving a grant, including Johnstons of Elgin, John Smedley, Ben Sherman, Ted Baker and the majority of larger companies who graduated from the old scheme and were willing to help and “god-father” newer companies.

While many of the industry’s key shows are in the EU, many used the old scheme to enter newer markets further afield including Japan, Canada, China, Korea, the US, Russia and the Middle East, including most of the UK’s new free trade agreement markets.

 

UKFT Support to Exhibit Internationally