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Boss of farm firm defends use of models again at trade show

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:43 13 January 2020

This year the models wore black dresses and high heels. Pic: Agrifac

This year the models wore black dresses and high heels. Pic: Agrifac

The managing director of an East Anglian farm machinery firm has defended employing female models on his stand at a trade show.

Agrifac UK managing director Andy Carse pictured in May 2018. Picture: www.edp24.co.ukAgrifac UK managing director Andy Carse pictured in May 2018. Picture: www.edp24.co.uk

Andy Carse, who runs Agrifac UK, based in March, said the three women, including two paid-for models, helping promote their firm at the Lamma show at the Birmingham NEC was "no different from a lot of the men we employ".

But he added the models were dressed more smartly this year whereas 12 months ago they wore skin-tight red dresses teamed with knee-high white boots. This time they wore smart black dresses with stilettos.

The firm, which sells sprayers and sugar beet harvesters, tweeted a picture of the models from the show displaying large Agrifac bags, saying; "Take a walk on the Agrifac red carpet at @lammashow and don't forget to grab one of our famous shopper bags while you're here!" No negative comments were posted on social media.

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This year Agrifac tweeted a picture showing the models wearing black dresses and displaying large promotional bags. Pic: AgrifacThis year Agrifac tweeted a picture showing the models wearing black dresses and displaying large promotional bags. Pic: Agrifac

Last year the firm sparked a twitter storm with one farmer posting: "Isn't it about time we as an industry started thinking of moving on from having sexy girls on podiums to sell a product? The rest of the world is moving on and maybe we need to as well?"

This year Agrifac employed one of the same models as last year, Melissa Sharp, another paid for model and one of their own female employees. Mr Carse said: "They are dressed differently from last year. We don't have any male models but we do have male staff who are sales people and that is what the women are doing, they aren't wearing anything different from what they would in an office and I don't have any worries about doing it again.

"It received a mixed opinions last year and there is no right or wrong, but they are talking to customers, we have 50 staff but that's not enough, so we hire in extra staff as hostesses, to meet and greet people. There is no right or wrong outfit - I am dressed in cream chinos and a shirt, there are no rules."

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Model Melissa Sharp, a university graduate and professional dancer, added: "Yes, I am here again. It would be horrific taking work away from women for just how they look and then having an all male industry as that would then be deemed as sexist.

"I am paid for the job and hired by the marketing manager who is also female. I thoroughly enjoy it, the company are brilliant to work for, we've had nothing but positive comments this year and as a company, Agrifac have had a successful show."

Last year's tweet which sparked a debate because it showed the models wearing tight red dresses and knee high boots. Pic:Agrifac/Archant libraryLast year's tweet which sparked a debate because it showed the models wearing tight red dresses and knee high boots. Pic:Agrifac/Archant library

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