The CBD Show, scheduled to take place in less than a month, has been accused by a number of would-be exhibitors of ‘scamming’ them out of their money.
Business of Cannabis has received confirmation from the conference’s apparent venue, Olympia London, that no event is scheduled to take place on December 7 and 8 as advertised, and no event under this name is on the books for the future.
We have also been in contact with a roster of brands who have either been refused refunds by the company, or have paid to exhibit only to receive radio silence from RASB Media, who run the event.
Despite this, the company continued to promote the event up until late September 2023, and we understand they were continuing to accept money from exhibitors until at least August, 2023.
The CBD Show
The show has taken place legitimately for a number of years, including in 2022, and by all accounts had been relatively well received by exhibitors and attendees.
This year’s CBD Show was initially due to take place in May, but the company opted to postpone the event until December 7 – 8, in early March.
According to one former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, the delay was due to concerns over train strikes.
This employee, who was made redundant in September, told Business of Cannabis: “When myself and others ran the show in 2022 it went swimmingly well apart from being hit by transport strikes.
“It was scheduled for May but was pushed back due to potential transport strikes again. I was informed that the venue also no longer had space, so we had to go with December.”
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Hemp Point CBD, which had paid RASB thousands of pounds for a stand in August 2022, say they were informed of the date change in March 2023.
After the date was changed, Hemp Point requested a refund as they did not want to move ahead with the event at the newly scheduled date.
Tomas Biroscik, Hemp Point’s CEO, said: “If the event is postponed until December, it’s a waste of our time. I’ve worked in this field for long enough to know how quiet it is in the industry during December. Everyone is tired, no one’s got the spark and there is definitely no atmosphere.”
Having requested a refund, Mr Biroscik explained: “They refused. I took them to court. We went through the mediation process, to which we both agreed, and they offered around £1000.”
As Hemp Point had reportedly paid £5400 for the stand, Mr Biroscik refused the offer, stating that he wanted at least 75% of the money he had paid, a demand RASB subsequently refused. A court date to settle the dispute has now been set for January.
Other companies failed even to get this far, and have been unable to get in contact with anyone from the company since paying to exhibit.
Notably, even the company’s former employee says he has been unable to reach RASB’s directors regarding his redundancy pay since he was let go.
The last remaining director of the company, according to Companies House, is Richard Aldridge, after his co-director Steven Bell left the company on October 28, 2023.
Business of Cannabis has reached out to both Mr Aldridge and Mr Bell, alongside RASB Media’s various email addresses regarding the allegations, but has received no response at the time of writing. The phone number listed on Google, and the company’s website, is also invalid.
One cannabinoid manufacturing company Business of Cannabis spoke to, who also wished to remain anonymous, said they paid for their stand in August this year, and were offered a discount for paying in full by a certain date.
“We have been stung by RASB Media too, it’s shocking really. The whole thing is bizarre, (the directors) have disappeared off the face of the earth with everyone’s money.
“I am speaking with a number of people about the same thing, we have all been scammed.”
Another company, Rotech Machines, was also due to exhibit at The CBD Show in December, having signed up and paid in May.
Its Marketing Manager Kirsty Burrage told us that after trying to get back in contact with the company at the end of September to ask about organising the stand, she ‘never received a reply’.
“I have since emailed every email address I could find for anyone working there and I have not received an answer. I also cannot get through on the phone,” she explained.
Like many others, the company was reassured by the previous events RASB Media had held.
“We always research exhibitions before agreeing to exhibit and I honestly didn’t see anything unusual at first. They had held the show there the year before, so we had no reason to doubt this.
“I’m just disgusted by RASB Media and how they think that this is OK… Perhaps naively they thought by getting exhibitors money upfront, they would be able to have the show and are now burying their heads in the sand. I honestly don’t know… It’s the strangest situation we’ve come across in terms of trade shows.”
How much has been lost?
Although every company we have spoken to has informed us they are in contact with multiple other companies in the same boat, the full extent of the amount of money invested in the non-existent show by would-be exhibitors is unclear.
According to RASB’s website, the show was due to host ‘around 100 suppliers’, and ‘up to 5000’ industry professionals across the two day event.
Price packages sent to exhibitors suggest that RASB was charging £1680 plus VAT for a basic 2x3m stall, rising to £2055 plus VAT for a 3×3 stall with an open side. Prices for larger stalls were significantly more, costing over £10,000 for a 6x6m site.
If even a fraction of the number of exhibitors suggested on the company’s website paid for their stalls, RASB are likely to have received tens of thousands of pounds.
It’s also unclear whether the company is still active. Its social media pages were posting until September 2023, and it’s understood that posts accusing the event of being fraudulent have been removed by the company since then.
Business of Cannabis will continue to monitor the situation. If you or your company has been affected, please contact us here.