Town set for debut expo

Chris Travers and Nicola Westwell, who have organised the first Leigh Business Expo
Chris Travers and Nicola Westwell, who have organised the first Leigh Business Expo
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BUSINESSES hope to prove Leigh is the place to be when the town hosts its first sold-out expo for firms this summer.

More than 50 companies, ranging from small independent traders to nationally-known high street names, will descend on the Leigh Sports Village (LSV) for an intensive day of promoting and networking in July. The Leigh Business Expo will be the first time the town’s commercial sector has been able to take centre stage at its own show, though many firms from the town have previously run stalls at the successful Wigan expos at the DW Stadium.

Organisers Chris Travers and Nicola Westwell say they were determined to tell people across the North West that Leigh is an attractive destination and a place to do business in its own right.

Production director at Collins and Darwell Printers Chris said: “We came up with the idea after going to the expos at Wigan and Salford and getting new customers there. I thought Leigh was big enough to have its own show, especially with the excellent rooms at the LSV.

“We don’t really want to be known as just part of Wigan, and talking to other people and businesses they also want to be known for Leigh. The ethos of the whole exhibition is to help each other out and boost our economy.

“Hopefully the firms who have stalls will get a lot of business out of it, and if it goes well it will become an annual event.”

Chris, 39, says the concept immediately caught the imagination of the town’s businesses, with all the stalls at the July 11 expo having been sold by the end of March.

The expo organisers are now marketing the event to get as many people through the doors on the day to find out what the stallholders can do and meet firms ranging from mobile phone giant O2 to opticians as well as social and voluntary groups such as new umbrella organisation Trust in Leigh.

Delegates will also hear from a range of guest speakers, while Leigh MP Andy Burnham will attend and other attractions will include a prize draw to win a weekend for two in Paris.

Chris says his own experiences in the printing trade at Collins and Darwell, one of the oldest companies of its kind in the country, has shaped his belief in the importance of marketing and meeting clients face to face, and urged both individual businesses and Leigh as a whole not to simply wait for customers to come to them.

He said: “People rely so heavily these days on social media and websites, but there’s no point having the best website in the world if no-one knows about it.

“My dad did most of his business meeting people on the golf course and at lunches, and things are now coming full circle. People are getting back to meeting the decision-makers, giving out business cards and networking.

“People are really passionate about Leigh, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the town, and we really need to stand on our own two feet. We will support anything that keeps people wanting to come to the town rather than get out of it.”

The Leigh Business Expo takes place on Friday July 11 from 8.30am until 3pm and is free to attend.

To find out more, visit www.leighbusiness-expo2014.org.uk or follow the exhibition on Twitter @LeighBusExpo2014