Informa Exhibitions’ Charlie McCurdy Talks Company’s Growth Streak

January 25, 2017

In a mere eight years, U.K.-based Informa PLC’s Global Exhibitions division has grown from a $100 million company in annual revenues with its business primarily focused in the Dubai region to now a $600 million company in annual revenues, as estimated by Deustche bank for 2017, and shows being held in countries all around the globe.

Approximately half of Informa’s core business is in the United States, after a series of high-profile, strategic acquisitions, including the Hanley Wood Exhibitions portfolio, the FIME medical trade show based in Florida and the Penton portfolio of shows that includes Natural Products Expos East and West.

Charlie McCurdy, who started with Informa PLC in 2015 and is CEO of the company’s Global Exhibitions Division, said the U.S. market was desirable because its “economy has been healthy, stable and growing.”

He added, “It is generally more predictable than other parts of the world.”

While a significant portion of Informa’s portfolio still is in the Dubai region, the company has chosen to not have as many shows in other areas such as China and more specifically the United Kingdom and Europe.

In China, Informa has the China Beauty Expo, which McCurdy said they were fortunate to have because it was “positioned in a consumer-facing product and domestic-related.”

In other words, as exports from China have fallen, the show has not been impacted as much.

And, as far as Informa not having a significant presence in the U.K. and Europe overall, McCurdy said, “For the time being, we are O.K. with that.”

Back in the U.S., Informa’s most recent major acquisition last year was the Penton portfolio of shows in a deal worth $1.56 billion from private equity owners MidOcean Partners and Wasserstein & Co.

Besides the Natural Products shows, the Penton portfolio also includes a few massive farm shows, such as Farm Progress, and other shows such as WasteExpo and Aviation Week events.

“They are all category-defining shows,” McCurdy said.

Another one of Informa’s acquisitions under McCurdy, FIME, is the largest medical show in the U.S. and complements Informa’s collection of 22 exhibitions and more than 100 conferences across the EMEA and APAC Life Science markets.

McCurdy said FIME also was a good example of a show that the company could look at geo-cloning into other markets worldwide.

In addition, here in the U.S., FIME currently is a regional show that he added will be grown more into a “more balanced visitor profile” by expanding its reach.

As far as challenges in running a global exhibition company, McCurdy said that even though there are numerous vertical markets Informa has strong positions in and management teams are very aligned in their own businesses, he added, “We work together very well.”

McCurdy saw a bright future for not only Informa’s exhibition business, but the overall landscape of the industry. He added that it was a “healthy, strong business” and would continue to be the case.

McCurdy said that next steps for Informa is the company will continue to look for acquisitions, as well as focusing on the importance of digital and data with the company’s shows. “We are all grappling with how to harness this for our customers,” he added.

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