Sheffield City Region pulls out of mission to Poland

ITM Polska is the largest manufacturing exhibition in eastern Europe.
ITM Polska is the largest manufacturing exhibition in eastern Europe.

Officials from the Sheffield City Region have dramatically pulled out of the Master Cutlers’ trade mission to Poland in a row over being disorganised.

Two inward investment specialists were stood down just three days before a delegation flew out to the largest manufacturing exhibition in eastern Europe.

William Beckett, chair of the International Trade Forum.

William Beckett, chair of the International Trade Forum.

The SCR had been a key part of the trip to Poznan, organised by the International Trade Forum over the last six months.

But, according to ITF chair William Beckett, it failed to apply for a stand in time and missed out on the chance to fly the flag for the region at ITM Polska, which boasts 1,000 exhibitors and 18,000 visitors from 27 countries.

Then a row blew up when he refused to approve an SCR press release he felt claimed unjustified praise for the organisation. It ended with SCR bosses withdrawing their people, despite having paid for flights and accommodation.

Mr Beckett said it was a case of throwing “everything out of the pram.”

He added: “Their press release was quickly rebuked because of its inaccurate content and attempt to claim unjustified praise for itself.

“Further, we could not condone it being used as a political opportunity to involve Dan Jarvis to eulogise over the future of the SCR. That was beyond the pale.”

Backing out had created an embarrassing situation which would show the SCR in a bad light in Poland, he added.

“Directors of the ITF have the experience of organising participation at hundreds of exhibitions worldwide and cannot allow its reputation and that of member companies to be sullied by inexperienced personnel at the SCR.”

The mission, including the Master Cutler Ken Cooke and representatives from 11 companies, flew out on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Sheffield City Region said they decided on Wednesday their presence wasn’t essential to its success.

And they had decided several weeks ago not to take a stand because the event was not ‘investment-focused’.

She added: “We are supportive of this ITF trade mission to Poznan and have assisted in its planning over several months. Along with other partners, we have collaborated to offer joined-up support to the businesses involved.

“The focus of this mission is on private sector companies making links with other businesses, meeting potential customers and forging new trade links.

“Businesses attending the mission will be supported by the ITF delegation and it was therefore decided that SCR attendance is not essential to its success.”

Only last week officials were looking forward to forming “potential trading relationships” and demonstrating “the excellent offer that the SCR has to investors,” at the ITM Polska trade fair. It was in a programme that included attending a property event in Cannes and hosting the Horasis China meet in Sheffield.