THE organisers of a major business exhibition say they are adapting to make sure it goes ahead as businesses look to bounce back from the Covid-19 slump.

The UK economy shrank by 20.4 per cent in April – the largest economic contraction on record – while the number of people on Universal Credit rose by a record one million.

But the organisers of the Hampshire Business Show, due to take place in October at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, say they plan to go ahead despite the impact the pandemic has had on the events industry.

The event attracted almost 1,000 businesses last year and is being adapted to ensure it meets all government guidance which will be in place on the scheduled date of Thursday, October 15.

Josh Mitchell, who is organising the event with colleague Chris Stones, said: “The Hampshire Business Show was created to bring the business leaders of our city and region together to network, connect and up-skill to facilitate transactions and collaborations.

“We know this event is an important date on many calendars for businesses, which is why we are working hard to do everything we can to ensure we deliver the show on the planned date despite the impact this crisis has had on the events industry.”

Finland-based tech company Leadoo has joined the 2020 show as a sponsor after successful expansion into the UK.

Mr Mitchell added: “We have a contingency date in place for Thursday, February 25 should we need to postpone. Our priority is the welfare and safety of everyone involved followed closely by the experience we aim to deliver.

“If we cannot ensure the health and safety, adhere to government guidance or deliver an event we want our visitors, exhibitors and sponsors to experience then we will bring the contingency date into effect.”

A report by the industry body Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) in early May said the UK events sector was estimated to be worth £70billion in direct spending, accounting for more than half the visitor economy. Business events made up more than £31bn of that figure.

The organisers have introduced a Book With Confidence scheme which allows businesses to book their stands with a 20 per cent deposit, with rest not due until 30 days prior to the show.