and Early Action Group (EAG) have merged to create a unified event and
exhibition services company for the UK and global market.
newly-combined group encompasses Opex, Stanco, ExpoSystems, Excel Invision and
Early Action Group. Under the new arrangement, former EAG chief Steve Barratt
will become CEO, working alongside current Opex chief operating officer, Paul
“We will be the first UK-owned major services partner of the
new age,” Barratt said during a press briefing to unveil the merger. “No one has
ever planned event and exhibition services delivery as strategically as we will
“Our plan is to transform the industry and give our venue and
organiser customers a complete range of services and coverage,” he
A major catalyst for the merger was the increasingly global nature
of the events and exhibition market, Barratt said. The combined group will be
able to plan internationally, and deliver locally, he added.
UK events industry is becoming ever
more global. We will continue to services our clients in the market, but the
merger allows the combined company to offer services more easily and
internationally,” Barratt said. “As our clients geoclone shows, we will
geoclone our services offering.”
Barratt claimed the combined group
would have the largest venue presence in the UK covering Earls Court and Olympia, Excel London,
Ricoh Arena, The NEC, Manchester Central, Business Design Centre, Cardiff
International Arena and ACC Liverpool. He also pointed out EAG’s custom-build
services experience was complementary to Opex’s history in shell
The cost of the deal has not been disclosed, but is being
financed out of existing working capital as well as Opex venture capital
partner, Octopus Capital. Barratt told CN the majority of the two companies’ 300
staff are expected to be retained. Opex chairman, Guy Morgan will remain with
the new group as a board member.
“This new company is about our people,”
Barratt continued. “Our intention is to propel beyond the traditionally
perceived contracting services market. Our new power and scale will help us ramp
up our range of offerings to venues and organisers and provide the best value,
the best choice, the best people and quality in the industry.”
companies will be rebranded into a single entity over the next four to five
weeks. Barratt flagged plans for continued expansion in products and services,
as well as its intention for further acquisitions.
Caption: Steve Barratt speaking at
last year’s ESSA G50 in Daventry.