CBM and Exibit in expos battle

09/03/2004 - 21:00


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COMPETITION in Perth’s home and lifestyle expo market has stepped up a gear following last year’s decision by Consolidated Business Media to re-enter the sector.

COMPETITION in Perth’s home and lifestyle expo market has stepped up a gear following last year’s decision by Consolidated Business Media to re-enter the sector.

CBM is facing off with Exibit Exhibitions and Publishing for market share. Between both companies there will be five home expos held in WA this year.

However the competition has spilled over into the courts, with Exibit taking legal action against CBM over the timing of its market re-entry.

In an unrelated matter, CBM has launched defamation action against Exibit.

CBM sold Exibit its entire expo portfolio in 1999 for about $2.5 million. Exibit also acquired Vision Events in 1999, giving it a virtual monopoly on home and lifestyle expos.

When CBM re-entered the expo business last year it set about replicating expos it had sold to Exibit.

The increase in the number of expos held each year is producing more aggressive promotional strategies by each operator.

Apart from increased traditional promotional methods, such as advertising, some exhibitors claim to have been targeted by one operator while working at an expo organised by the other.

Apart from the rise in aggressive promotional activity, though, not much has changed as an experienced operator seeks to re-establish its position.

CBM managing director John Webb is well aware of the impact he has made by re-entering the market.

In fact, Mr Webb said the market can not sustain the two operators, and claims he wants to buy Exibit’s expos.

“They are selling stands so cheap that it is destroying the market and no-one is making money,” he said.

“They are dropping prices to force us out with a price war and we want to buy them out so we can stop that. 

“We would reduce the number of exhibits over the year and bring it down to two or three home shows.”

Exhibit operates three home shows and CBM host two home shows.

They both organise a women’s expo and both have other events staged throughout the year.

Exibit managing director Peter Versluis confirmed Mr Webb had offered him $2 million to buy back the expos.

Mr Versluis said the offer was “ridiculous” and rebutted claims he had dropped the prices of stands at Exibit expos.

“The only discount is for 30 per cent if they [exhibitors] buy three stands [at three expos] at one time,”  Mr Versluis said.

“I would say he [Mr Webb] has not impacted on our business. We’ve spent more money promoting the events but we got more exhibitors at the ideal home show than we had last year, and the visitor numbers were good.

“We bought CBM’s expos and Vision Events Management at the same time because we recognised that these home shows were killing each other and it needed to be sorted out to make them profitable. Mr Webb is now coming in and trying to do it again.”

But while Mr Webb and Mr Versluis slug it out for corporate superiority, exhibitors are faced with an increasing array of shows available to market their business.

This can increase the cost for exhibitors who are trying to cover all their bases as consumers become overwhelmed with choice.

Exhibitors spoken to by WA Business News stress the need for people to do their homework before signing up to new shows.

Exibit bought Mienex from CBM, along with the home and women’s lifestyle shows, but Mr Versluis said Mienex was not viable and shut it down.

CBM held its first Primex expo last month.  Mr Webb acknowledged crowd numbers at some expos were down but said he would operate Primex again next year. 

He blamed hot weather at both the Primex expo and the Perth Woman expo for poor crowds.

The Western Power fiasco happened on the first day of the three-day Primex event.

However, in a letter to exhibitors at CBM’s Perth Woman Expo in November last year, Mr Webb said his competitor had played a role in diminishing crowd attendance.

“Jamie Durie was contracted to appear for many months prior to the event and was on the front of all of our exhibitor packs, on all TV and press advertising. In short he was, possibly more than any other celebrity, our main crowd puller,” the letter states.

“Exhibit [sic] … contracted Jamie unbeknown to us for there [sic] Spring Home Show, which was to run two weeks prior to the Perth Woman Expo, and began a campaign in The West Australian newspaper .... This took enormous amounts of crowds away from our event. It also diminished the effectiveness of our campaign.

“In all the years of running expos we have never had this happen to us.”



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