Several exhibitors have been left out of pocket and demanding answers from an organiser who has cancelled or postponed three exhibitions in the past five months under two different businesses.
Bizotunity, owned by David Woods, was due to host an exhibition at the Sports Direct Arena, the home of Premiership football club Newcastle United, on 22 March. According to the company website, the show has been moved to 24 May.
The postponement comes after Business Exhibitions UK (BEUK), a business also registered to Mr David Woods, cancelled similar business-to-business exhibitions in Sheffield in February and Bournemouth in March.
The Bizotunity B2B North East 2012 event on 22 March was advertised with 153 exhibitors. However, several of these failed to receive communication that the event had been postponed.
Those that received information from Bizotunity were told a week before the event that many exhibitors failed to pay the full fee.
“We were told we had to pay our fees up to six weeks before the event, so it seems odd that the exhibition would be postponed because of late fee paying by some exhibitors,” John Armstrong from Custom Planet said. “It’s as if the organiser disappeared off the face of the Earth.”
Newcastle United Football Club conference and banqueting sales office supervisor Diane Turner told EN the event booking, made by BEUK using a Bizotunity email address, was taken in good faith.
“The appropriate checks were carried out, which gave us no cause for concern that the company we were dealing with was anything other than legitimate. The organiser from BEUK subsequently cancelled this booking on 13 March,” the venue said in a statement.
“It is not the responsibility or business of our company to make any contractual or financial arrangements for the companies or businesses who attend the exhibition. This is a matter entirely for the exhibition organiser - BEUK.
“While I have sympathy with the situation you [exhibitors] find yourselves in, I must again refer you to BEUK.”
Bizotunity was filed 2 November 2011 with Companies House and is registered at 14 Polypin Yard, Norwich, Norfolk, with a Mr David Woods listed as company secretary. Business Exhibitions UK (BEUK) is also registered at that address with a Mr David Woods as company secretary.
BEUK was due to hold the North of England Business to Business Exhibition at the Sheffield Megacentre in November, and the South Coast Business to Business Exhibition at Carrington House Hotel in Bournemouth on 1 March. Sheffield was postponed to 7 February then cancelled, and Bournemouth was also cancelled.
According to Companies House, BEUK’s accounts are overdue by more than three months and the company’s website has disappeared. EN was unable to reach David Woods for comment.
Trading standards officers have also been unable to contact Woods. Owner of innov8 Conference Services James Caldwell called in the watchdog after being left out of pocket to the tune of £290 by BEUK.
Caldwell’s only contact with BEUK was a notification on 1 February that the planned Sheffield Megacentre, where innov8 was due to exhibit, had been cancelled. Innov8 had paid the exhibitor’s fee a week earlier.
Since then, Caldwell told EN he has left five voicemails and sent five emails, but had no contact from BEUK. His most recent attempt was made via letter on 13 March. “The first thing we heard was ‘We’ve a cash flow problem, please bear with us’, back on 1 February. We’ve heard nothing since,” Caldwell said.
Following Caldwell’s request, Norfolk Trading Standards officers visited BEUK’s website address in Meadowview House, 191 Queens Road, Norwich. The door was locked and there was no reply.
The officers also checked out 14 Polypin Yard, the registered address of Business Exhibitions UK, but found entry could only be gained by access to the appropriate flat. They could not locate bells for flats 10-15.
Companies House records state Business Exhibitions UK should have filed its most recent accounts on 2 December.
“This is the only time we have had this situation. It does not paint a great picture of the industry,” said Caldwell.
Fellow exhibitor Sarah Simpkins, MD of printing.com, was more fortunate and had her Sheffield stand payment returned after email exchanges with BEUK. Simpkins told EN she only found out the event was postponed after phoning the venue.
After posting comments on BEUK on the 4Networking forum, Simpkins was refunded her original payment of £156.60 on 30 January.
Last summer, EN reported Business Events UK (BEUK), organiser of the unsuccessful South of England Business to Business Exhibition 2011, had been dissolved. According to Companies House, the Norwich-based Business Events UK was dissolved on 5 July 2011, five days after the show.
Business Events UK was registered at Meadowview House, 191 Queens Road, Norwich, Norfolk; the address now being used on exhibitor stand material by Bizotunity. Business Events UK also lists David Patrick Woods as director.
EN continues to request comment from Woods.