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Since 2006 LAPADA have held their London fair at 6 Burlington Gardens by arrangement with the Royal Academy, but were forced to seek an alternative venue following a change in tenancy.

However, exhibiting members felt now the fair was established in Mayfair it had to stay there, not least because there was evidence that it attracted wealthy local residents and professionals who tended not to shop outside the West End and seemed not to visit other London fairs.

LAPADA chief executive Sarah Percy Davis was charged with the near-impossible task of finding another affordable venue in the area, a challenge which has defeated a number of seasoned fair organisers in the past. The solution was to create a purpose-built structure in a prime location and after negotiating for the best part of a year Mrs Percy Davis secured the space in famous Berkeley Square.

Marquee fairs, though, are notoriously expensive so to make the cost acceptable to members the event will accommodate 90 rather than 70 exhibitors. Stand costs have risen from the projected £350 to £400 a square metre but the chief executive told ATG: “Considering the Mayfair location, the members will pay. We surveyed them after this year’s fair and they were excited and prepared to pay up to £400 a square metre.”

There will be 1400 square metres of sellable space, plus a restaurant to cater for 100 covers.

By David Moss

• Blenheim Palace will be the venue for the first ever LAPADA Conference, which will take place on Monday, February 23, 2009. The event has been organised in response to requests from members for more social and networking opportunities. It is also intended as a forum for the discussion of topical issues and business practice.

LAPADA have aimed to make it as accessible as possible, in terms of both location and cost. The splendid Oxfordshire venue has been chosen for its ease of access by road and its position at the centre of the greatest concentration of LAPADA members.

Thanks to sponsorship from ATG, Besso insurance brokers and the shippers Cadogan Tate, it has been possible to set delegate fees at a very reasonable £28 for the conference. This will include a two-course lunch with wine in the Orangery, followed by a choice of optional tours of Blenheim Palace for an additional £9.50 per person.

The morning session will begin at 10.30am with a report from chief executive Sarah Percy Davies and a review of the market from ATG editor-in-chief Mark Bridge. There will be sessions on Internet trading and marketing techniques, and Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill herself will speak on opportunities for dealers to work with interior designers, followed by a lunchtime introduction to Blenheim, her ancestral home.

For more information tel: 020 7823 3511.