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NEC Group profits up 58% in 2016–17

The UK venues and ticketing group grew turnover 17.9% and EBITDA 58% in the last financial year, bolstered by several major concerts and high-profile exhibitions

By Jon Chapple on 09 Oct 2017

Arena Birmingham, NEC Group

Arena Birmingham, newly renamed from Barclaycard Arena

NEC Group, the operator of five of the UK’s leading large venues, has posted a strong set of financial results for the 12 months ending 31 March 2017, its second since being sold by Birmingham City Council.

The Birmingham-based company, which also owns ticket agency The Ticket Factory (TTF) and caterer Amadeus, reported revenue of £157.7 million – up £23.9m (17.9%) year on year – and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £50.4m (including valuation gains of £2.6m on investment properties), an increase of £18.6m (58%) on the previous year.

“This has been an exceptional year, building on the strong maiden results the group posted 12 months ago,” says NEC Group CEO Paul Thandi. “As part of our transformation agenda, we are implementing an exciting and focused strategy which starts with a deep understanding of the needs of our customers and visitors. That understanding is in large part obtained from the insight we draw from data. We invest our resources to address those needs and improve the experience of our customers and visitors, and we can see the benefit of that approach in the significant levels of new business we have secured.

“We are not content to stand still. We will continue to deliver against our proven strategy while broadening our business through a focused leisure strategy to give our visitors more compelling reasons to visit. This includes two visitor attractions to be delivered by Merlin Entertainments at our NEC and city-centre sites in the next 12 months and new long-stay content such as Dinosaurs in the Wild, which we hosted at NEC this summer.

“We are progressing other planned developments on our NEC site within the context of our wider campus masterplan, and we will continue to extend our footprint through winning third-party venue management contracts and by securing new external opportunities for Amadeus.

The initiatives we have recently implemented and those planned … provide us with confidence that our businesses will continue to grow strongly”

“We are continuing to invest in our venues to improve the visitor experience, with a particular focus on digital technology. That investment will supplement our already exceptional capabilities to draw insight through the analysis of customer data.

“We are proud to be a central part of the West Midlands’ visitor economy, and look forward to our growth in scope and activity enhancing further the regional economy and its national and international profile.

“We are at an early stage of our strategic development. The initiatives we have recently implemented and those planned, allied with the profile of contracted forward bookings across the group, provide us with confidence that our businesses will continue to grow strongly.”

NEC Group manages Arena Birmingham (15,800-cap.), Genting Arena (15,700-cap.), the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), the International Convention Centre (ICC) and Vox Conference Centre, all in Birmingham.

The two arenas welcomed more than 1.4m visitors in the last financial year, with event highlights including Adele, Justin Bieber, Drake, Black Sabbath, the Horse of the Year Show, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Strictly Come Dancing and Cirque du Soleil.

On the expo side, meanwhile, new events included Automechanika, Destination Star Trek and the UK Games Expo, which join existing exhibitions Spring Fair, Crufts, the BBC Good Food Show and gaming festival Insomnia, while the group has also invested in the Bradford Odeon, a new mid-sized venue expected to open in 2017.


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