Speaking at a meeting for PLASA Members held during the PLASA Show, John Simpson, PLASA Governing Body chairman and chairman of the White Light Group of companies, said, "Without doubt our major issue this year has been that of diminishing profit, which has led to a critical cash-flow problem for the organisation.
"We have taken action in implementing cost-cutting measures across many parts of PLASA, including reduction in staff, putting the Eastbourne office up for sale and a substantial restructure of the organisation. We have overcome the immediate cash flow problems for 2015, but will be limited in services we can provide during 2016 - which is why our Members' feedback is so important as we look forward."
Speaking after the event, Simpson said, "This has been a difficult period for PLASA but it is also an opportunity for us to refocus. PLASA has a chance to reassess its role in this industry, its relationships and communications with its members, and the future directions of its commercial activities. As we go forward, PLASA Members can expect an association that is more nimble and responsive, more visible and in touch with its members' day-to-day challenges and concerns, and as we return to profitability, better positioned to reinvest in the industry and provide the help and support our Members need to boost their business activities."
On the termination of the merger agreement between PLASA EU & PLASA North America (formerly ESTA), Simpson said, "Both associations will retain the assets they had prior to the merger, which in the case of PLASA will be all the event and media assets not including Protocol magazine, the property in Eastbourne, various programs, the Technical Resources Office and our skills-based qualifications such as the National Rigging Certificate. Negotiations are now in progress to allow an orderly separation of operations that are jointly owned and settlement of outstanding financial matters."
Simpson reminded members that the PLASA membership and Regional Boards were near-unanimous in voting for the merger back in 2010. "At the time, the two organisations were running the same programmes, providing the same services and it was felt that a merger could only enhance the global strength of the PLASA trade body."
He added, "Over the past years, it has become apparent that the culture of the way services should be provided has changed, and now both regions want to service their members in a different way."
In canvassing PLASA Members' opinions on services offered by the Association in the future, Simpson proposed an initial structure of five 'core' Member Services: Market Research & Data; Skills development; the Technical Resource Office; Political representation of membership & industry; and networking events for the membership. Additional services could be provided at a premium, including: IP support & protection; Trade mission support for export; and Representation on technical standards groups and committees.
He also said PLASA would welcome Members' views on its media and events businesses.
PLASA 2016: A New Start
In a move that has been warmly welcomed by the majority of PLASA's Members and exhibitors, the PLASA Show will move to Olympia in 2016, and return to a September dateline, taking place from 18-20 September.
The relocated three-day show will draw on PLASA's experience of the hugely successful PLASA Focus Leeds event, and be based around smaller, more affordable exhibiting packages with a shorter build time, giving exhibitors more flexible opportunities and a faster return on investment. In addition, by utilising the adjacent Olympia Conference Centre, it will provide access