International exhibitions, events and information services group, Informa has revealed underlying revenue growth of 2.8% for the 10 months to 31 October 2019, “despite an unpredictable economic/geo-political backdrop,” said Group Chief Executive Stephen Carter, 11 November.
On top of continued growth in revenue, Carter reported adjusted profit, earnings and cashflow and a full year performance “on track” for the group.
The company, which has a £10bn market value, bought its smaller rival UBM for almost £4bn. Assimilating the UBM business continues through the Accelerated Integration Plan.
In terms of expansion, the period under review had seen the organiser take a minority investment in Founders Forum, a networking business for entrepreneurs set up by one of the co-founders of Lastminute.com, and the launch of a joint venture with Informa Tech to support the next phase of growth in tech innovation and entrepreneurship.
Informa said that the Founders Forum would “bring a unique brand and high-profile connections in attractive, fast-growth segments” and would help it to expand the London Tech Week festival.
Events held by Founders Forum are invitation only and have been held around the world over the past 13 years. Informa did not reveal the price it paid for its stake in the joint venture.
The trading update also predicted a seasonally strong November/December trading period still to be factored in to the figures. This end-of-year period makes up around 20% of the group’s annual revenues, with November alone accounting for more than £350m (US$449m). Carter said the annual revenue growth figure could, therefore, come in nearer to 3.5%.
Informa also reported a divestiture of the Industry & Infrastructure Media Brands Portfolio, following on from sale of the Life Sciences Media Brands Portfolio and the Agribusiness Portfolio, as well as portfolio changes in Informa Connect.
The issue of a new €500m bond was designed to strengthen the Informa balance sheet and to lower the cost of overall debt and had involved extending average maturity to 5.5 years.
Following a period of major restructuring and reinvestment through the Growth Acceleration Plan, the business is now performing consistently, with improving levels of growth in its specialist markets of Pharma, Retail Banking and Maritime, the update noted.
At Informa Markets’ specialist international B2B platforms for trade and commerce there were strong performances through the third quarter, among others, in Health & Nutrition (SupplySide West), Hospitality, Food & Beverage (Hotelex) and Design & Furniture (Furniture China).
The update noted: “We are planning for growth in all key segments of the market, from Enterprise IT to The Internet of Things. This is reflected in our progress through 2019, with strong recent performances in Security (Blackhat) and Artificial Intelligence (AI Summit) delivering 10-month underlying revenue growth of 1.7%, against a full year target of 2%.”
Informa Markets also reported progress in its Fashion portfolio following the launch of the Fashion GAP Plan, stemming the historical decline in attendance over previous years, improving NPS scores and successfully launching OneMagic. The aim is to target to return the Fashion portfolio to growth by 2021.
The Group had two market-specific, in-year impacts through the period under review: in Dubai, increasing commitment to World Expo 2020, combined with challenging market conditions, has had a significant effect on traditional exhibitions investment, particularly in Real Estate & Construction, impacting Cityscape Global, in September. And, in Hong Kong, where the group generates around 4% of revenue, recent civil protests have had a small impact on revenue growth at some events. This affected Informa’s largest brand in the region during September, the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Show, although a strong programme of support, including investment in additional security and transport, ensured the show still ran effectively.