Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith responds to last week's criticism of annual industry get-togethers

' I read with interest the comments about the demise of the conference and particularly the shrinking size of Biba's Manchester conference in April (Opinion, 23 June).

On the contrary, our conference this year was the biggest ever, with a record 1,720 delegates compared to 1,350 in 2004 and 1,140 in 2003.

Further evidence of its growing popularity can be seen from the increasing number of brokers attending - 512 in 2003, 540 in 2004 and 675 this year.

With regard to the conference being a means of raising money, I agree that income is an important planning factor. Without our generous exhibitors and sponsors we would not be able to spend more every year on developing the event and re-investing funds for the good of the industry.

The event's success also benefits delegates. Biba introduced the Biba Bursary in 2004, which waived the registration fee for members. This was designed to encourage new attendees from smaller businesses.

Under the Corporate Sponsored Broker Scheme even more brokers and intermediaries now attend as guests of sponsors. For other delegates the fee is left deliberately low at around £260 for non-members and £520 for other industry representatives, representing excellent value for money.

Lastly, this year's conference speakers included Dame Stella Rimington, Sir Matthew Pinsent and The Rt Honourable William Hague, I find it hard to believe that such a line-up could be called "boring". Indeed, attendee feedback has been extremely positive, many commenting that it was "the best conference yet".

Next year's conference will be held at the Hilton Brighton Metropole from 26 to 28 April. We hope you will be able to attend and see for yourselves what a unique forum it is for Biba members and non-members alike to learn, network, conduct business and focus on key industry issues. IT