‘Another Exceptional Year’: UK’s NEC Group Earnings Show Attendance and Earnings Growth

NEC Group, which operates five venues in Birmingham, England, grew its live entertainment and ticketing business, according to the group’s earnings in the year ending March 2018.
Arena Birmingham
– Arena Birmingham
Attendance at NEC Group venues was up 17 percent YOY

NEC Group’s venue portfolio includes the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), International Convention Centre (ICC), Genting Arena, Arena Birmingham and the Vox Conference Centre.
It also owns its own ticketing system The Ticket Factory, catering company Amadeus, hospitality brand Amplify, digital media specialists and sponsorship consultancy, NEC Connect Group, as well as a consultancy and venue management arm, NEC Group Venue Partnerships.
The group reported revenues of £162.1 million ($214.5 million), which marks an increase of 2.8 percent, or £4.4 million on the previous year. Earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 9.8 percent or £4.9 million, and stood at £54.7 million ($72.3 million) at the end of the financial year.
“Earnings have continued to grow since the year end with unaudited EBITDA over the twelve months to 31 May 2018 now standing at £60 million, up £12 million compared with the year to 31 May 2017,” the earnings report states. “These results continue the impressive track record of growth since the buyout of the group in 2015.”
Causes for growth include increased rent from Resorts World Birmingham, the £150 million ($198 million) leisure and entertainment complex at the main NEC site operated by Genting, which enjoyed growth in footfall and customer spend.
“In addition, revenue has begun to be generated from agreements with Merlin Entertainments for new visitor attractions – The Bear Grylls Adventure at NEC and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre at Arena Birmingham – opening in 2018 and from the planned Moxy Hotel development,” the report continues.
Attendance at the group’s two arenas grew by 17 percent against the previous year to over 1.6 million. Acts hosted included Drake, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga,
Pollstar met Guy Dunstan, general manager of both Arena Birmingham and Genting Arena, at the end of last year to talk business.
During the most recent financial year, NEC Group invested £21.7 million (up £4.5 million YOY) into improving customer experience on site, which included the start of a major project to install 185 high-specification digital screens across the NEC campus, hall upgrades at the ICC, continuation of the transformation of catering outlets at NEC and work to prepare the two areas designated for Merlin Entertainments’ visitor attractions.
According to NEC Group CEO Paul Thandi, the group invested £48m over the last three financial years on projects that improve customer experience and deliver earnings growth. 
He said, “this has been another exceptional year as we see further benefits of what is now a proven strategy. We continue to use our market-leading insight drawn from a wealth of customer data to work with promoters and organisers to grow their shows and launch new content.”
He also talked about future plans, which include expanding the leisure offer on site, building on the success of Resorts World Birmingham and on consumer exhibitions and arena shows. “The opening of two new Merlin Entertainments’ attractions later this year will be important milestones in the delivery of that plan,” Thandi said.
He also pointed to NEC Group’s sporting credentials, which included the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships, the Yonex All England Badminton Championships and Gymnastics World Cup. “We look forward to showcasing those credentials on a global scale when we host the Commonwealth Games 2022,” he said.
Arena Birmingham
– Arena Birmingham
The 15,800 capacity venue in the city center hosted the IAAF World Indoor Championships, March 1-4

Thandi also talked about the group’s £2 million investment into the historic Odeon in Bradford, England, which it intends to transform into a live entertainment venue by 2020.
“We are proud to be working with Bradford Live and other partners to bring this historic building back to life,” he said.
“We are now exceptionally well positioned for further growth and are targeting earnings growth of 10 percent year on year over the medium term,” according to Thandi.