Informa to concentrate on big ticket events, as training bud

Publishing, events and performance improvement company Informa has posted a rise in revenues of 13 per cent, and organic profit growth of 1.4 per cent for the year to 31 December 2008.

The company reports “robust performance for exhibitions and large scale events”, but notes a tougher outlook for smaller events and training.

Informa CEO Peter Rigby tells Conference News: “We saw reduced demand for our local language conferences and training courses, however face-to-face contact is still very important in the digital age and there will remain demand for conferences and events, particularly those that lead their sector or sub-sector, as many of ours do.”

Events contribute over a third of Informa’s revenues and some 200 events account for about 70 per cent of the total events’ profits. These include titles such as Arab Health, Cityscape Abu Dhabi and Dubai, The German Energy event and the World Ethanol Congress.

“It is industry leading events like these that we expect to hold their own during a downturn and as competition subsides,” says a chairman’s statement accompanying the results.

Informa has slashed £33m from its cost base and forecasts “headroom greater than 10 per cent against both 2009 covenant testing points”.

The company says: “The events portfolio, spread across the major verticals and geographies, delivered another set of excellent results given the prevailing economic conditions last year. Events revenues grew by eight per cent and contributed around 30 per cent of group adjusted operating profits.”

The company claims its portfolio of events and topics will evolve as it tracks trends, with training courses and smaller events being produced around new legislation. Themes like the environment, alternative fuels and even mobile telephone networks in Africa also provide opportunities to deliver information in a contextual and concise form to a wide audience.

Informa says it strategy involves starting with a single topic and building it into a large scale event: “We combine conferences with exhibitions, and link conferences to publications and geo-clone.”

As training budgets are constrained, Informa says it’s saved around £8 million by reducing its costs for conference and training, and the total number of events run last year was around 11,000 compared with 12,600 in 2007.

The company notes that, if the overall number of events is reduced by around 10 per cent, it is the smaller training courses which are eliminated which, it says, has a proportionately smaller impact on profits.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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