Biba and the CII are in discussions over whether to merge their annual conferences, Biba head of technical services Peter Staddon revealed.

"We are currently in discussions with them [the CII}, and they have made representations to our board," confirmed Staddon.

But he said no decision had yet been made, and the "jury is still out".

However, there will not be a joint conference in 2006, he said, a position which CII director general Sandy Scott echoed.

Scott declined to comment directly on whether the conferences would merge.

"The CII and Biba are working together on a host of issues such as conferences and events," said Scott.

"We work closely with Biba as we do with other trade associations, and we are seeking to develop a common agenda. The issue of conferences is one of the things which we discuss," said Scott.

He said there would be joint initiatives in the future.