MUTA executive committee member Cameron Stewart and Duncan Russell of new member Ten By Fifteen were part of a panel held at the Showman’s Show to debate issues affecting the temporary structures industry. The show was held at the Newbury Showground October 20–21, 2010. The debate was dominated by the “price war” within the marquee hire industry, with a particular problem identified where firms would undercut the job, even if they skimped on quality as a result.
One suggestion on how to soften the blow of losing work was to negotiate a commission for referring business to another firm who could do the work justice. Alternatively, contractors could add value to their services by providing more than just a structure, or they could seek sponsorships. The demands of private hirers were identified by some as a reason for the pressure on prices, while others believed new entrants to the market were to blame.
MUTA president Tony Marsh (see “Tony Marsh creates a package deal” in the November 2010 issue of Specialty Fabrics Review) downplayed the suggestion that compulsory licensing of temporary structures contractors would be introduced as a way to limit poor practices in the U.K., suggesting that instead the industry needs to support MUTA and MUTAmarq to continue its program of skills training for competent contractors, and in educating local authorities and other relevant organizations on best industry practices.
A third of the session participants expressed confidence about 2011; fewer respondents were confident that public spending cuts would succeed economically.
MUTA is the trade association for the U.K. temporary structures and technical textiles industries, representing suppliers and manufacturers of textile products used in sectors spanning diverse industries such as marquees, healthcare, aerospace and bouncy castles. The association runs the health and safety accreditation program MUTAmarq, for hirers of marquees and temporary structures, and PIPA, for inflatable play equipment.