Informa’s events revenue fell by 7.8 per cent in 2012

Informa’s events revenue
fell by 7.8 per cent in 2012, the result of a strategic move towards
large-scale events and departure from small conferences and volatile
markets.

The
company’s events and training division, which accounts for 43 per cent
of group revenue, incorporates the company’s face-to-face media
businesses, including conferences, exhibitions, awards and in-house
training programmes.
 
In the year ended 31 December 2012,
revenue fell 7.8 per cent from £581.2m (US$886.7m) to £535.6m, while
adjusted operating profit dropped 2.9 per cent from £106m to 102.9m.
Overall group revenue, including the company’s academic, professional and
commercial information businesses, was £1.23bn [2011: £1.28bn], due to
the disposal of US professional services firm Robbins Gioia and its
smaller European conferences.

Adjusted
operating profits rose four per cent to £349.7m. However, rather than
depicting a worrying turn for the health of the group’s business,
Informa views the decline as a necessary result of reconfiguring its
business for future growth.

The
company began a process of rebalancing its events portfolio away from
smaller conferences towards large events over seven years ago, beginning
with the acquisition of IIR.

The
company ran 6,500 events across all formats in 2012, down from 12,500
at its peak in 2007. A spokesman for Informa said that in periods of
buoyant economic activity, small conferences can grow strongly but
revenues are inherently cyclical, particularly where conferences are
local and one-off in nature. This, they claimed, was the reason for the
company offloading some of its European local language conference
businesses throughout the year, in Austria, Hungary and the Czech
Republic.

Instead
the company’s focus is on building annual events, where customers
return each year to engage with a community, and in particular those
with an international reach.

The
company has more than 250 events it classes as large events,
representing 44 per cent of revenue in its events and training division.
It launched, or geo-cloned, a total of 17 events in 2012.

Informa’s
acquisition of Canada’s MMPI, part of the company’s £151.5m spend on
acquisitions in 2012, added 45 events to its exhibition roster including
Construct Canada and interior design industry exhibition IDS and the
One of a Kind craft fairs. It also continued to build its presence in
emerging markets, with 27 per cent of events and training revenue
generated in these fast-growth regions in 2012, up seven per cent on the
figure for 2011, but still nowhere near the likes of organisers such
as Tarsus on more than 50 per cent.

Revenues derived from Middle East events grew most noticeably, up 36 per cent on 2011.

When
adjusted for currency, Informa claims its large events experienced high
single-digit growth in 2012. “We were very proactive in managing our
portfolio in 2012,” said Chief Executive Peter Rigby (pictured).

“Internally,
our focus on operating excellence also led us to proactively exit a
number of lower quality publishing products and events, cutting out over
£25m of revenue. This has impacted top-line growth trends but leaves
the group in a stronger position going forward, with a higher underlying
quality of earnings,” Rigby added.

“The
new financial year has started well, with a strong performance from our
large events in the Middle East in January,” commented Rigby. “Despite
ongoing macro uncertainty, we are cautiously optimistic about our
prospects for the year ahead, with underlying revenue growth expected
across all three divisions, translating into another year of growth in
adjusted earnings per share.”
 
Do you have news for CN? Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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