The UK exhibition industry has had another good year despite uncertainty over Brexit. A new Economic Impact Report (EIR) jointly published by Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Event Venues (AEV), and the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) paints a positive picture with visitor numbers and the number of events in the UK rising to 9.1m and 1,100 respectively in 2018. EN can also reveal that these figures look set to further rise for 2019 with the majority of UK event businesses reporting positive and resilient growth.
The report was commissioned by the three associations, which defines and measures the significance of exhibitions to the UK economy, was championed by Nigel Nathan, MD, Olympia London, Austen Hawkins, CEO, F2F Events, and Nick Marshall, executive chairman, GES.
Marshall underlined the importance of the research, saying: “To have a definitive and detailed picture of the exhibition industry’s economic impact on the UK is of great value to businesses and associations alike. Not only does it reveal the breadth and scale of the exhibition sector’s influence, but it also provides vital economic points of comparison with other industries when the associations make legislative and political representations.”
The new report, created in conjunction with UFI, was compiled by Oxford Economics, but differs from its previous reports thanks to data provided through the AEV’s Size and Scale Index of Events (SASiE) report. Nathan explained: “With the SASiE data, OE had a much more reliable source of exhibition numbers than previous reports had access to. As a result, we can confidently assert that this is the most accurate description and measurement of the exhibition industry’s economic impact on the UK economy to date.”
The report reveals that the UK exhibition industry directly accounts for more than £5bn of GDP and over 114,000 jobs. In greater detail, the report breaks down spending and impact into direct, indirect and induced impact, providing a nuanced and complex picture of the exhibition economy.
Hawkins summarised his reaction to the report, saying: “Exhibitions directly contributes £5bn to the UK economy (£11bn direct and indirect), and our industry deserves recognition for that fact alone. This report demonstrates beyond question that venues, organisers, and suppliers, have built an extraordinary economic powerhouse that directly and indirectly supports over 110,000 jobs attracting over 9 million visitors, and servicing almost 180,000 exhibitors.”
“The industry is continuing to grow.”
ExCeL London CEO and treasurer of the Association of Event Venues & Event Industry Alliance Jeremy Rees ratified the report adding: “As one of the UK’s largest venues, attracting over 4m per year and 40,000 exhibitors, we are encouraged to see that the industry is continuing to grow and that venues are playing a key role.
This report demonstrates that the exhibitions sector is integral to the UK economy, contributing billions of pounds in GDP, in business transactions and directly supporting more than 100,000 jobs.
It shows that the sector is aligned squarely with the Government’s industrial strategy and shows that it is not only creating jobs and economic value, but driving imports and exports by facilitating hundreds of thousands of business transactions at exhibitions and trade events.”
The report is now available for download, free of charge, from the individual AEO, AEV and ESSA websites.
The industry view
Informa Plc group chief executive Stephen Carter
“After 10 months trading in 2019, despite an unpredictable economic/geo-political backdrop, the enlarged Informa Group continues to demonstrate resilience and performance, remaining on track for a sixth consecutive year of growth in underlying revenue, profit, adjusted earnings and cashflow.”
Informa remains resilient against an unstable economic backdrop with continued growth reporting revenues up by 2.8% for the 10 months to 31 October 2019.
Hyve Group ceo Mark Shashoua
“After over two years of significant transformation, we have created a stronger and more diversified portfolio, with a focus on market-leading events. This makes us more resilient going into FY20 as we face headwinds in many of our markets, including sanctions in Russia, Brexit, USA/China trade wars and foreign exchange rate uncertainty. Due to the investments we have made in our TAG programme, we are confident that we are in the best position to take advantage of these headwinds while customers focus on quality.“
Clarion Events executive chairman Simon Kimble
“The industry faces a number of risks, including economic and political uncertainty which has been pronounced in recent years, so it is heartening to read the Economic Impact Report which shows a resilient and significant sector. We have experienced good growth in 2018, and this extends into 2019, as we continue to focus our strategy adapting to the changing landscape through investment in innovation and refreshing our infrastructure models in addition to focusing on better understanding of the customer and improving the alignment of visitor and exhibitor requirements.”
NEC Group venue sales director Ian Taylor
The report’s findings are promising and unsurprising, as here in the Midlands, we too are experiencing growth. Evident in the NEC hosting over 150 exhibitions year on year, face-to-face communication continues to be an important facet of business in every sector. It is this real-life interaction in a digital world, that’s providing our industry with the power it needs to withstand the current economic headwinds and continue to measure highly in the global rankings.”
Reed Exhibitions UK CEO Darren Johnson
“2018 was a strong year for Reed Exhibitions, we launched 44 events globally, with many arising from our strategy of extending leading brands and sector expertise into new geographies. We also made a number of exciting acquisitions both in the UK and globally which, I am delighted to report, are showing good stable growth in 2019.”
Nineteen Events CEO Peter Jones
“2019 has been an outstanding year for Nineteen. Record rebook and double-digit growth across all shows. For example, our NEC Series that ran Apr 2019 rebooked over 100% onsite and is set to more than double by Apr 2020, with most the stand space already forward booked during 2019. We haven’t felt much effect of Brexit.”
Reed Carpets commercial director and ESSA chairman Martin Cairns
“The event industry is a key marketing platform for both consumer and trade business, it provides opportunities for companies of all sizes and it is heartily encouraging, particularly for those in construction, to know that it is in such good health in this time of political and economic uncertainty.”
Vice-chair of ESSA and MD of EventShaper Lou Kiwanuka
This report emphasises the reality of what the supplier sector has seen for several years. It’s been tough out there, there have been influences on our market beyond the control of an SME, but the robustness of our industry can be seen in all facets – venues, organisers and suppliers. The report underpins our need to keep innovating and developing to ensure the UK is at the forefront of delivering efficient, effective and world leading events.”
Racoon Events MD Mike Seaman
2019 has been a really strong year for Racoon Events, seeing growth in both our existing events and our new launches. Looking forwards we foresee this trend continuing and a resilient picture for the industry as a whole.
“The size and make-up of the consumer show has clearly shifted in recent years and everyone is affected by political uncertainty, but events remain relevant and robust as long as we continue to listen to our customers and deliver what they need.”
Manchester Central CEO Shaun Hinds
“This year has been another incredibly strong year for us; with new events emerging and our longstanding clients demonstrating their confidence, in both the industry and our venue, through multi-year deals. The impact events have on local economies and city regions cannot be underestimated; not just in monetary terms but also transfer of knowledge and the business opportunities this creates. We’re continuing to work really hard in Manchester to ensure local businesses are engaged with the events we host and all parties are perfectly placed to reap the rewards.”
Business Design Centre executive director of venue sales Max Bull
I believe in periods of uncertainty – which we are certainly in-our industry and the best creative minds often find the gaps and opportunities to launch shows to exploit new markets or legislation so we could see some big future events emerging in the next few years.
It should be an exciting time as well, with continued M&A among the big organisers helping the ultrapreneur and smaller show organisers to take risks and launch, ensuring there is a strong flow of new shows and business being created year on year. This is obviously aligned to the BDC and remains our core strength to work with organisers and we are recognised as the market leading London launch venue.”
Tarsus Group MD Doug Emslie
“In 2018 we continued to see strong organic growth, delivering like-for-like revenue growth of 9% and an increase in buyers across the portfolio of 10%. In 2019 we successfully transitioned to private ownership following the takeover by Charterhouse.
“Our growth will be delivered both organically and via acquisitions, in line with our ‘Doubling Up!’ strategy, which seeks to double our revenues and profit over the next 3-5 years.
We have seen strong growth in 2019 and we are particularly pleased that attendance at our shows. We remain mindful of the global macroeconomic background and geopolitical risk but expect to deliver a peer leading performance in 2019 and into 2020.”
This was the cover feature for the December issue of Exhibition News magazine. For more content like this, click here to subscribe.