The NEC Group, which operates four UK exhibition and live events venues including the ICC Birmingham and the NEC Birmingham, posted an operating profit of £16.9m for the year ending 31 March 2012 - a reduction of 42 per cent from last year's operating profit of £29.4m.
John Hornby, The NEC Group’s chief operating officer, said that overall the group delivered "a result marginally ahead of our budget expectations".
Revenue for the year totalled £111m, with the accounts showing more than £55m invested in maintenance and future projects or paid out in interest payments and borrowing costs. The accounts stated that in the above period, its businesses welcomed 3.5m visitors at 708 events.
The Group Convention Centres business - which incorporates The ICC together with fees earned from the contract to provide management services to The Convention Centre, Dublin - reported a £700k or four per cent increase in revenue to £17.6m, although operating profit fell by £300k or seven per cent, a drop blamed on higher energy and property costs.
The group’s exhibition business individually delivered an operating profit of £27.5m, which was down 27 per cent on the previous year, with its management declaring that “this decline was anticipated due to the regular pattern of trade exhibitions, whereby not all shows are scheduled to take place every year.”
Hornby added: "We are pleased, given the extent of the macro-economic headwinds. The exhibition business delivered a strong result taking into account the regular exhibition pattern, which meant that a number of large trade shows were not scheduled to take place in the year, and our conferences division was able to deliver further revenue growth in what remains a fragile and very competitive market.”
The NEC’s Arenas and Ticket Factory business reported an operating profit of £3.7m, down £1.5m or 29 per cent, which it claimed reflected the depressed state of the touring music market in the UK last year.
NEC Group work in progress includes a partnership with tourism and leisure company Genting Group on a leisure and entertainment complex at The NEC site, which received planning permission in May and is due to be opened in early 2015. Together with existing venues, the project will create Destination NEC, which the group described as being “one of Europe’s leading business and leisure destinations.”
In addition, improvements to the National Indoor Arena (NIA) are due to be finished by the end of 2014. Hornby said: “A major refresh definitely was needed for the NIA, which is more than 20 years old.”
Pictured: John Hornby