By Jonathan Petre A MAJOR row blew up this week as several companies licenced to produce official papal souvenirs decided not to participate in the exhibition of papal photographs and souvenirs opened by Cardinal Hume on Tuesday.
The companies have complained that the display space offered for their souvenirs, the Guild Room in Westminster Cathedral, is far from adequate and they complain of inaction by the International Management Group (IMG), the business consultants retained by the Church.
Mr Derek Threadgall of Peat Investments, representing the companies, said that this was just one example of IMG's alleged failure to respond to their needs and requirements. "We don't think they have been a a e ec iv , dissatisfaction with IMG is widespread. The support we expected from IMG just hasn't been there. The marketing wasn't what we had hoped for," Mr Threadgall said this week.
A spokesman for IMG rejected Mr Threadgall's claims and said that Peat Investments had little from other souvenir companies. Mr. Edward Kanter, the Director of Peat Investments, was "out on his own", and had "lost the moral support of the Church", the
Mr Threadgall's claims were also firmly rejected by Mgr Ralph Brown, Church organiser of the visit, who pointed out that it was companiec that had made a loss which had blamed IMG.
"IMG are not in the business of selling their souvenirs for them. There is even a view among some of these companies, which I have seen expressed in a memo, that Cardinal Hume was irresponsible not to cancel the visit so that they could collect their insurance," Mgr Brown said.
The dispute between some of the 83 companies who were licenced by the Church organisation, Papal Visit Ltd,
and IMG, run by Mr Mark MacCormack, originally flared up after church and police estimates of the numbers of people expected to attend ceremonies_during the Pope's visit proved to be wildly overoptimistic.
As a result, many souvenir companies over-invested and now have large quantities of unsold stock left over from the visit. Three or four of the companies are apparently facing bankruptcy.
"It is the first time that we, or any company, has handled an event of this size," an IMG spokesman said.
Many of the companies, including Peat Investments, felt that IMG were not doing enough to help them sell their products, and suggested that the Church or IMG should buy some of the unsold stock. When this was rejected, Peat Investments negotiated a loan with a major finance company so that they could put into operation their own marketing ideas. But IMG said they were unable to underwrite the loan.
"The Church does not have that sort of money, and it is not our brief, as management consultants, to underwrite loans," an IMG spokesman said.
It emerged this week that Mr Threadgall had some support for the proposal that contacts with IMG should be ended. Mr Threadgall stressed that their dispute was with IMG and not with the Church.
"We have had nothing but 100 per cent co-operation from Mgr Brown. I only wish IMG were more helpful.
"We have now taken the initiative and come up with a solution. All we now want is for them to underwrite this loan. I wish IMG would—get—off—thefence and help us to solve the problem."
The exhibition was officially opened at a special preview on Tuesday, at which Cardinal Hume was presented with three copies of the BBC/ITV official videocassette of the visit — one for Pope John Paul, one for Cardinal Gordon Gray of Edinburgh and one for himself.
The exhibition is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, and admittance, which includes an exhibition programme, costs 20 pence.