Three Global Trade Show Producers Post Double-Digit Revenue Growth

December 5, 2023

Three global trade show producers recently reported financials, and revenue from exhibitions is soaring, with all three posting double-digit growth. Highlights from RELX, Informa plc and Easyfairs financials include: 

  • RX, the global exhibitions division of RELX, reported underlying revenue growth of 32% for the first nine months of 2023. Overall, RELX reported underlying revenue growth of 8.0% YTD through Sept. 30.
  • Informa plc reported strength and momentum across its portfolio with underlying revenue growth of 31.7% for the first 10 months of 2023.
  • Easyfairs 2022-23 revenues grew to €193.8 million ($210.1 million), an increase of 19% on the previous year. 

Deeper Dive: RX

Context: RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers, serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs more than 35,000 people, with more than 40% in North America. The market capitalization is approximately £55bn/€63bn/$66bn. 

Trade show revenues soar: Exhibitions, which made up 12% of H1 2023 revenue for RELX, reported double-digit revenue growth YTD through Sept. 30. RX produces 400 events covering 43 sectors in 22 countries. “Average like-for-like event revenue across the portfolio continues to run ahead of pre-pandemic levels, with increased exhibitor usage of a growing range of digital tools,” according to RELX Interim Results 2023.

Looking back: In July, RELX reported H1 revenues of £4,499m ($5,585m) vs. £3,969m ($4,927m) in H1 2022, with underlying growth of 8.0%, according to RELX Interim Results 2023

What they’re saying: “As we enter the final quarter, momentum remains strong across the group, and we expect underlying growth rates in revenue and adjusted operating profit to remain above historical trends, driving another year of strong growth in adjusted earnings per share on a constant currency basis,” according to the RELX trading update.

Looking ahead: For its full-year outlook, RX exhibitions said it expects a year of strong underlying revenue growth. The operating result will continue to benefit from the structurally lower cost base, with full year adjusted operating margin expected to be above pre-pandemic levels.

Deeper Dive: Easyfairs 

Context: Brussels-based Easyfairs reported Recurring EBITDA hit €35.6 million ($38.6 million) for its financial year 2022-2023, an increase of 25% on 2021-2022, according to a press release. Easyfairs has reported a strong rebound from the pandemic, which brought virtually the entire European events industry to a halt. As a result, Easyfairs ranks No. 11 in the Stax Top 20 ranking of world exhibition organizers by 2022 revenues.

What they’re saying: Easyfairs CFO Marc Hellemans said, “We have more than weathered the storm of COVID [and] we’ve emerged stronger than ever. We have achieved more than 15% organic growth through a mix of volume recovery and launches. In March we fully refinanced all bank debt until the end of 2027, strengthening our liquidity position with pre-COVID terms, putting us in an excellent position to develop new and future activities.”

Anne Lafere, Easyfairs
Anne Lafere, Easyfairs

Trade show rebound: “The more the world goes digital, the more value people place on the ability to meet face-to-face. We offer real-life social media!” said Easyfairs Group CEO Anne Lafère. “Easyfairs is a clear post-COVID winner within the industry based on the steepness of the rebound, not only in financial results but also in the number of exhibitors and visitors and customer satisfaction.”

Two consecutive record years: Matt Benyon, who shares Group CEO responsibilities with Lafère, commented, “Our results were further strengthened by a 9% layer of revenues generated by events launched over the past two years. We also successfully enlarged our portfolio of trade shows with Coiltech, Kuteno and KPA, all three of them perfectly aligned with the Easyfairs brand, and now the market is back stronger than ever.”

AI roadmap: Lafère said: “The rise of artificial intelligence is transforming our own industry, as well as the sectors and professional communities we serve. We’re currently working on our AI value creation roadmap. It has great potential on the one hand to increase the efficiency and job satisfaction of our talents, and on the other, to enhance the experience of all participants at our events and venues. We are convinced that AI will further boost existing revenues and generate entirely new revenue streams.”

Sustainability goals: Easyfairs also reported the progress it is making on sustainability and the green agenda, with the aim of halving emissions by 2030 and becoming fully net zero by 2050. “We are currently finalizing our second carbon footprint calculations and we can already see the impact of the measures we are taking in terms of energy, travel and accommodation, logistics, production and waste and food waste,” Lafère said.

Nurturing the talent pool: Benyon and Lafère underline the importance of acquiring, developing and retaining talent to Easyfairs’ ongoing success. “In our last financial year, we won the UFI HR Award for innovative recruitment and retention strategies and we added ‘Great Place to Work’ labels for Switzerland and Germany. Our high eNPS score shows the engagement of our 800 talents across Europe,” Benyon said.

Back story: Easyfairs, which has 800 employees, organizes 100 face-to-face event brands in 14 countries (Algeria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.) and manages eight event venues in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden (Antwerp, Ghent, Mechelen-Brussels North, Namur, Gorinchem, Hardenberg, Malmö and Stockholm). 

Deeper Dive: Informa

Context: Informa’s major brands, geographic breadth and depth in specialist markets are delivering further outperformance in 2023 and strong momentum into 2024, according to ​​Informa PLC’s 10-Month Trading Update. As a result, Informa has increased its full-year expectations in 2023 to revenues of £3.15bn+ ($3.91+ bn), up from £3.05bn ($3.78bn). 

Stephen Carter
Stephen Carter, Informa

What they’re saying: “We are confirming an upgrade to revenue and profit in 2023 and extending our share buyback programme to £1.15bn ($1.42bn),” said Stephen A. Carter, Group chief executive, Informa. “In 2024, our task is to continue to improve our product and service offering, grow organically, and use our cash flows and balance sheet to seize opportunities to build and buy further scale.”

Informa Markets: This division of Informa plc includes major B2B brands across 10+ major international markets and deep positions in 20+ growing market categories across its portfolio of transaction-led, live and on-demand events. Full-year revenues will be ahead of 2019 levels in all major geographies, including North America, South America, ASEAN, Europe and China, the latter having seen significant acceleration through the year following the removal of COVID restrictions, according to Informa.

Top trade show performers in 2023: “We have seen growth in all major market categories in 2023, with particularly strong performances in Healthcare (Arab Health, Medlab), Health & Nutrition (Natural Products Expo West, Supplyside West), Pharma (CPhI Worldwide, CPhI China), Beauty (China Beauty Expo) and Luxury (Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Art Miami, Monaco Yacht Show),” according to ​​Informa PLC’s 10-Month Trading Update

What they’re saying: “Structural demand for face-to-face connections and B2B market access remains high, and the quality of our product offering is improving, with technology enabling better matchmaking between buyers and sellers, on-demand access to content and data to support faster decision making and a range of other value-added services,” according to Informa officials.

Tarsus: The Tarsus business has continued to perform well post-acquisition ($940m valuation / sub-9x post-synergy EV/EBITDA), delivering 65% underlying revenue growth through the period to date, with strong performances in Healthcare (Health Connect Partners), Anti-Aging & Aesthetics (A4M Spring Congress) and Aviation (Dubai Airshow).

Combination and Growth: Alongside operational delivery, Informa has been focused on combining the Tarsus businesses and brands with Informa, and this process is now largely complete, ensuring the combined companies will enter 2024 as one business. About 60% of Tarsus’ 2024 revenue is included within Informa Markets (including all major biennial events), with about 40% combined into Informa Connect, where the company sees increasing opportunities for differentiated high-value, branded, specialist professional content-led B2B events, such as SuperReturn, Bio-Europe, IM Power and A4M. 

Informa Connect: This division includes major content-led brands with international reach and depth across industries and professional communities. Increasingly powerful customer data and analytics are delivering strong growth across Informa Connect. Following the addition of Tarsus and Winsight brands, the business is generating more than £600m ($745m) of annual revenue, with two-thirds from live and on-demand events and one-third from digital services, with 70%+ of revenue generated in North America.

Top trade show performers in 2023: All major market categories are performing well in 2023, including Finance (SuperReturn, SuperInvestor) Life Sciences (Bio-Europe, Biotech Showcase), Foodservice (National Restaurant Show, FSTEC), Anti-Aging & Aesthetics (Anti-Aging World Congress, A4M Winter Congress) and Pop Culture (FanExpo Canada, Megacon Orlando).

Informa Tech: This division serves B2B markets with specialist technology brands and first-party data through IIRIS (20m+ records). The growing range of high-value B2B services have combined to deliver good growth in 2023, despite the challenges and reductions in some B2C and media budgets across the technology sector, according to Informa officials. As the broader technology market recovers, Informa Tech is in a strong position to build on its existing relationships and further expand its range of audience-led B2B digital services for technology customers, where the company sees a significant long-term opportunity to create value.

Top event performers in 2023: Informa Tech has 15+ major franchises, including Black Hat, Enterprise Connect, LEAP, Game Developer Conference. Demand for high-quality face-to-face connections and accredited training is strong and pacing into 2024 is currently ahead of last year, according to Informa officials.

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