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Split over event is “chapter of a book that has now closed”

The split between the Wine Industry Suppliers Association (WISA) and Exhibition Management is now just a chapter of a book that has closed, according to Exhibition Management’s executive director John Kelly. But it was a chapter that left him dismayed and angry but still philosophical. “We are moving, as any business should, but with tarnished images of the way the matter was handled,” he said. The row erupted when WISA announced its “new alliance with AWITC” and the decision for WineTech and AWITE to merge so that one major industry event could be staged. Kelly was perplexed that he was alerted by a trade magazine to the content of a press release that had been issued jointly by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and Wine Industry Suppliers Australia Inc. (WISA) which “announced” a new relationship between the two parties that there would “be only one industry endorsed trade exhibition in 2007”. He said that Exhibition Management Pty Ltd had a binding agreement with WISA for the conduct of Winetech every two years, up to and including, 2013. “Subsequently, to clarify this situation, I contacted a member of the WISA management committee who refused to provide any further detail to clarify this announcement, which had apparently arisen subsequent to a WISA management committee meeting. That individual expressed great disappointment in the content of the announcement and the manner of its delivery. “That conversation and other calls to WISA resulted in us receiving, belatedly by fax, and ultimately by registered mail on Monday 22 August, a notice from WISA suggesting that they had terminated the agreement,” Kelly said. “The reasons provided by WISA for this development were based upon two very technical interpretations of the agreement between WISA and ourselves. We absolutely refute those interpretations and our position is fully endorsed by our legal advisors,” Kelly said. “Our position is that the attempt by WISA to suggest that we had breached the agreement is merely a pretext to justify that organisation’s decision to give its support to another event without having to deal with the problem presented by the fact that WISA had contracted with us to organise future Winetech events in Adelaide up until the year 2013, including Winetech 2007. “We should point out that it was Exhibition Management Pty Ltd that financed the initial research and significant event development dating back to early 2001 in negotiations with various industry bodies, including the formative, AWISA organisation, which led to us evolving Winetech from a theory into a reality, even down to inventing the name. People with whom we were involved in these formative discussions will certainly endorse our role as the prime movers in the whole process. “It was acknowledged, by WISA itself, in the joint release issued on or about 17 August that the Winetech events held in 2003 and 2005, which were organised by Exhibition Management Pty Ltd, were successful trade shows. “Our contention is that those events were successful only because of our involvement, management, promotion, financing and presentation. Exhibition Management Pty Ltd has returned substantial funds to WISA from these two events to support their activities over the past three years. Exhibition Management Pty Ltd even financed the visit of the WISA executive officer to the USA to attend an industry event in Sacramento as the organisation itself did not have the financial means to do so!” Kelly said that on legal advice, he have decided to rescind the agreement with Wine Industry Suppliers Australia Inc, for the holding of the biennial Winetech exhibitions. He said his decision was taken with considerable regret, having regard to the outstanding success of Winetech 2003 and the recently held Winetech 2005 and the many friends and relationships we have established over that period. Kelly said that a more consultative approach could have been adopted. “Our business is based on dealing with associations and we have had successful dealings with more than 30 different associations since our business began in 1979. In all that time we have never been treated this way before. “We are moving on from this but with tarnished images of the way it was handled,” Kelly said. ———————— The 2007 event will be called "WineTech: The Australian Wine Industry Technical Exhibition". And will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre at the end of July. Organisers said the Convention Centre was well suited to the associated Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference and would accommodate the exhibition adequately. According to a report from WISA’s annual general meeting, this event will be held every three years, and will, at this stage, alternate between Adelaide and Sydney or Melbourne; The report also said that an appropriate event, perhaps organised in conjunction with other industry events, will be organised for the intervening years. These events will be held in or near Adelaide.

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