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Overseas Fairs Division receives Coronavirus business support

Friday 17th April

The Overseas Fairs Division are international exhibitions consultants, celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. They successfully deliver events and exhibitions all over the world and provide companies with packages to help secure international business.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Overseas Fairs Division’s industry, COVID-19 majorly impacted them. Stuart Whitehill, Account Director, said “the moment it was becoming apparent that it was becoming a pandemic, exhibitions effectively took a nosedive, we started to see this towards the back end of last year”. Furthermore, attendance for shows in January were low, companies had started to drop out of future exhibitions, and “more British companies were becoming very anxious and very nervous about travelling to an overseas event”.

As a result, this caused a lot of financial complications as costs such as accommodation, flights and more, had already been booked. The Overseas Fairs Division looked at projections in the near future and they did not look promising. Stuart explained that there is no guarantee that events this year will be taking place and if so, they will be reduced in size.

After consideration, the company decided against taking out a loan and making employees redundant, they needed a solution… and that’s where we came in. The Overseas Fairs Division have used the GBSLEP Growth Hub services before, several years ago when they needed to refurbish their office, they applied for and received a grant.

After appreciating the prior support provided by our services, Stuart got in contact with us and spoke to one of our Business Resilience Account Managers, Christine Hancock. She passed on the initial details of possible government support, helped with specific questions and updated Stuart as things developed.

When the online form for Small Business Grants went live on the Solihull Council website, she forwarded the link to Stuart. He couldn’t believe how simple the grant application was and how quickly they received the £10,000 – it was in their account after 48 hours.

Stuart was grateful that unlike a loan, they wouldn’t need to pay the grant back. The funding helped to alleviate some issues within the company, such as rent and other overheads. “It was as if a tap had been turned off and a plug had been pulled out of a bath – you helped to plug that bath back up” (Stuart Whitehill, Account Director). The assistance that our services provided “helped the general upkeep of the company and helped to keep the company alive”.

Stuart further stated that the grant allowed them to “not furlough a lot of people, keeping employees on-board ensures the business isn’t put in hibernation and being in hibernation would have really handicapped the company in getting things moving”. He told us that he is using this time to plan for future events when Coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

The Growth Hub’s support has helped the Overseas Fairs Division to “stay afloat”; Stuart described our team as “very supportive” and that our resources are “easy to access”.

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