XPO Exhibitions has announced two key food industry events, including The Auckland Food Show, originally scheduled for the Auckland Showgrounds next month, won’t proceed.
XPO Managing Director Brent Spillane took the venue’s lease holders, the Cornwall Park Trust Board, to the High Court to challenge its proposal to lease the grounds to an international film company, Xytech Studio Management, asserting the agreement was beyond the Trust Board’s legal powers. A final judgment from Justice Peters has yet to be announced.
“It is with a heavy heart that we must announce The Auckland Food Show has been postponed until 2023, due to uncertainty with the Auckland Showgrounds. The Foodtech Packtech show has also been postponed to 2023.
“You may be aware of the High Court case against the Cornwall Park Trust Board’s proposal to lease the Auckland Showgrounds to a film studio. ( For a full report of the XPO Exhibitions case and the initial judgement, Read more here. ).
“No one has fought harder than us to retain this venue for events, and we’re buoyed by the favourable judgment, however, at this time we’re unable to confirm exact timeframes for upcoming shows, which includes The Auckland Food Show.
“Unfortunately, no alternative venue in Auckland is suitable to house New Zealand’s largest food event,” said Mr Spillane.
Responding to the judgment announcement, Cornwall Park Trust Board CEO, Mr Murray Reade said:
“The Cornwall Park Trust Board is aware of Mr Spillane’s comments.
“The Board continues to review the legal, commercial and other options available to it, driven by the overarching objective of ensuring the assets of the showgrounds are used for the benefit of Cornwall Park.
“In line with this objective, we want to secure an arrangement on use of the showgrounds that provides the Trust Board with a commercial return at an appropriate level of risk.
“The CPTB simply cannot afford to receive poor commercial returns from the showgrounds in an ongoing way – and nor does our Trust Deed allow us to do so.
“A ground rent for the showgrounds was last agreed in 2013, and an appropriate uplift in rental has not been agreed with any party since then, in part due to the unsustainable events-based business model of the previous Shows Board (now in voluntary liquidation), and the effects of the pandemic.
“Endowment land around Cornwall Park, including the showgrounds, was provided for purposes of supporting the running of Cornwall Park, and ensuring its amenities are freely enjoyed by all New Zealanders for all time.
“Against this backdrop, the Board is duty-bound to explore a range of uses in compliance with the district plan, the 1982 Endowment Act that applies to part of the showgrounds land and other legal limitations that will generate the best commercial return.
“At the time it was entered into, Xytech’s proposal for mixed film and event use of the showgrounds was the strongest offer.
“The liquidation of the Shows Board means the CPTB has also had to assume responsibility for the buildings on the site which had previously been developed and maintained by the Shows Board.
“Significant expenditure is required to maintain and renew these buildings and their services to a fit and proper standard and to discharge health and safety standards. This work had been deferred by the Shows Board, but is now under way in line with a schedule of works that will unfold over the next five to seven years.
“These maintenance and renewal costs were previously borne by the Shows Board, as part of its operation of the showgrounds and its mandate to promote shows and exhibitions. Elsewhere, these maintenance and renewal costs are often subsidised by local councils or regional economic development agencies.
“Mr Spillane’s legal action has further delayed final decisions on usage of the site.
The Trust Board is still considering its options and in advance of the High Court’s final ruling on this matter and will not be making further comment.”