Several hundred delegates declared the We Mean Business Expo 2016 in Croydon (Wednesday, 18th May) a major success with at least one firm clinching a deal worth nearly £100,000.
Over 100 businesses, from multi-nationals to small and medium-sized companies exhibited at the Expo in Fairfield Halls, which incorporates Ecodrive, The Croydon Motor Show. They all enjoyed brisk trade, in spite of a rail strike and bad weather.
Central Croydon MP Gavin Barwell launched the day by addressing 80 delegates at the exclusive, early morning VIP Breakfast before racing to Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament.
Mr Barwell said the local small business community would have much to be happy about in today’s Queen’s Speech and that the Government was ‘very much aware of the issues facing businesses’ particularly in relation to business rates.
The Mayor, Patricia Hay-Justice (above centre), formally opened the event at 9.30am. She said the regeneration of Croydon was really gathering momentum and it was a great time to do business in the borough.
One of the sponsors, Croydon Business Venture used the Expo to launch their exciting rebrand - StartUp Croydon - an initiative to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
At the first of three Expo seminars, the Gatwick procurement team outlined their plans to do more business in Croydon. Over £8million of the airport's £248million procurement budget is spent in Croydon, and the Gatwick management team want to increase this figure. The airport is currently in talks with London Borough of Croydon on more joint initiatives.
One of the happiest businessmen at the Expo was James Storm, Managing Director of Countrywide Dispute Resolution Services in Dartford. He came back to Expo 2016 after clinching £100,000 worth of business at the last event. Today he shook hands with another visiting delegate on £90,000 worth of new business.
Mr Storm commented: “We have had an excellent day at Expo – it has gone really well. We have already acquired a new client, which represents £90,000 worth of business. I also have a further 12 or 14 strong leads from people coming to the stand, which are potentially worth another seven or eight thousand pounds.”
Throughout the day delegates to attended the hugely popular Speed Networking sessions, sponsored by Croydon Business Venture. They also gained inside track business advice at three busy busineness seminars on Fairfield's mezzanine floor.
Gatwick Airport's head of community engagement Alison Addy outlined the airport's procurement requirements and aim to build a strong local supply chain.
Coast to Capital chief executive Jonathan Sharrock, who has helped the develop the NS2 high speed rail project and was responsible for the government's transport interests at London 2012, spoke on the organisation's offer in a regenerating Croydon.
Finally, White Label Creative director Jo Gumb spoke on how to target marketing and communication strategies to best effect
Coast to Capital 's Business Advice Clinics were equally busy throughout the day, with experts mentoring and advising delegates on a wide variety of commercial issues.
The We Mean Business Expo and Ecodrive 2016 was organised by White Label Creative and supported by Business Navigator Growth Hub, Coast to Captial, StartUp Croydon, Croydon Chamber, FSB: The Federation of Small Businesses, Gatwick Airport, Platinum Buinsess Magazine and the Croydon Advertiser.