by Annie Byrne

Events and publishing group Ascential plc has had a ’a good year with strong organic growth’, driven by the launch of new products.

In its first full year results to be published since floating last February, Ascential, formerly known as Top Right Group, has achieved earnings and revenue growth in line with its expectations.

The company, jointly owned by Apax Partners and Guardian Media Group, reported adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) from continuing operations of £95.9m in the year to 31 December 2016, compared to £76.6m in the previous year.

“We grew both revenues and profits driven by our focus on our leading brands and on customer retention. The launch of new products such as WGSN Insight, Money20/20 Europe and Lions Entertainment were contributors to our 2016 success,” Duncan Painter, chief executive officer.

“We also made substantial progress to reshape the group towards higher organic growth through the acquisition of US-based One Click Retail in August 2016 and the acquisition of MediaLink announced in February 2017, as well as the proposed sale of the Group’s Heritage Brands. Our active portfolio management continues to drive our growth rate and geographically diversify the business.”

The new financial year has started well, Painter added.

“Since the year end, Spring Fair, Bett London and Pure Spring have taken place and performed overall in line with our expectations. While still early in 2017, we are encouraged by the current level of forward bookings and are confident of another good year of growth for the group.”

In 2016, the Exhibitions & Festivals segment delivered revenues of £180.0m, (2015: £150.4m), up 19.7 per cent or 12.3 per cent on an organic basis driven by the launch of Money20/20 Europe and continuing strong performance from Cannes Lions.

“Over recent years, the Exhibitions and Festivals segment has created a fast-growing business with market- leading, international products,” stated the company.

“It aims to deliver market-defining customer engagement and harness technology to further improve digital experiences around the events. This shift will deliver year round access to the event and its content, by bringing the digital space closer to the physical attendee experience.”

The top five events of this segment are Cannes Lions, Money20/20, Spring/Autumn Fair, Bett and CWIEME. These products contributed 83 per cent of the segment’s revenue.

“In 2017 Ascential’s Exhibitions and Festivals division aims to offer more customer-focused, data-led products that bring the membership communities of each event together year round,” the company added.

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