The Group’s performance in this period was in line with management expectations.
Revenue for the period will be circa £75m (six months to 31 March 2017: £70m). The increase is largely due to underlying trading improvements and the benefit of biennials and event timing, offset by the proactive cancellation of less profitable events and the impact of foreign exchange.
On a like-for-like basis revenues for the six months are 8% higher than the comparative period. Four Top 10 events ran in the period, collectively delivering double digit like-for-like revenue growth. This continues the double digit growth in Top 10 events in the previous financial year and reinforces our strategy of focusing on core market-leading events.
The Group’s balance sheet and operational cash flows remain strong. Net debt is circa £52m (31 March 2017: £55m) reflecting continuing strong operational cash conversion and planned TAG investment in the period.
TAG programme update
We announced the TAG programme nearly a year ago and we continue to progress according to plan. The TAG Programme comprises of three pillars of strategic activity to accelerate growth, namely creating a scalable platform, managing the portfolio and making product-led acquisitions.
We have recruited the best practice teams and started to implement the ‘ITE way’ to increase the scalability of our platform. We have also rolled out seven best practice initiatives following the launch of our ‘Events Best Practice’ blueprints.
The Group is managing its portfolio by implementing a more rigorous approach to the allocation of capital. During the period we discontinued 22 less profitable events as we continue to focus on our core events.
The Group will also look to make selective product-led acquisitions to accelerate growth in line with strict M&A criteria and we have a strong acquisitions pipeline.
As at 29 March 2018, the Group had booked circa £137m of revenue for the 2018 financial year (31 March 2017: £128m) representing 85% of market expectations for the full year. On a like-for-like basis, these revenues are 14% ahead of this time last year and on a volume basis are 5% ahead reflecting the impact of earlier bookings and ITE’s focus on core events following the launch of the early TAG initiatives.
With TAG well underway, ITE is making good progress towards realising its vision of creating the world’s leading portfolio of content-driven, must-attend events that deliver an outstanding experience and ROI for our customers.
The Board says it is pleased with the performance to date and is confident in full year expectations.