UBM’s ‘Events First’ Strategy Pays Off with 30-percent Revenue Surge in 2015

February 25, 2016

UBM announced last year its strategy was going to focus on putting ‘Events First’, and those efforts paid off, with full-year 2015 total revenues surging 30 percent to $1.3 billion (£974 million) , compared with $1 billion (£746 million) in 2014.

The addition of Advanstar Communications to the company’s portfolio was a boost, with a first year return on investment of 10.3 percent. UBM also sold PR Newswire for $841 million last year, further solidifying its ‘Events First’ strategy.

“UBM has taken significant steps in its transformation in 2015. We’ve integrated Advanstar, announced the sale of PRN, successfully begun implementing ‘Events First ’ and delivered an operational performance ahead of expectations,” said Tim Cobbold, UBM’s CEO.

He added, “Looking forward, UBM is now a focused business with more than 82 percent of revenues derived from events across a range of industry verticals and geographies. Our ‘Events First’ strategy will deliver growth, margin and, we believe, create the best platform in the industry.”

UBM’s annual events in 2015 posted a revenue increase of 35 percent to $811 million (£582 million), compared with $598 million (£429 million) from the year before.

The company’s seven biennial ‘major’ events also performed well, growing by 34 percent, on a constant currency basis, compared with their 2013 editions. 

UBM runs 116 ‘major’ (more than $1.4 million in revenue) annual events, which delivered 86 percent of annual event revenue in the year.

Revenue growth of these major shows grew 5 percent, despite the Furniture China and Sign/LED shows, compared with 3.9 percent (underlying growth adjusted for rationalization) for the portfolio as a whole. 

Advanstar’s events, which are 74 percent of the UBM Advanstar division, grew just more than 4 percent last year, with a major initiative focusing on further integrating the business into UBM’s overall structure.

All UBM divisions, including UBM Life Sciences, were brought under one umbrella in the U.S., as well as changes were made in the management structure.

Simon Foster was appointed Interim CEO of UBM Americas after the departure of Sally Shankland, who previously had the role.

“As he has demonstrated, Simon was well-placed to take this role, combining his 25 years of experience in the industry with specific knowledge of many of the constituent businesses in UBM Americas,” UBM officials said.  

The remaining Advanstar integration (of finance systems and processes, and other business systems) will take place during the next 18 months. 

The acquisition of Advanstar has re-balanced UBM’s geographic presence to be more in line with the global exhibitions industry. 

In 2015, North America accounted for 42.6 percent of Annual Events revenue (2014: 24.7 percent) and Emerging Markets, as a whole, accounted for 40.7 percent (2014: 50.8 percent), with China 30 percent of annual revenues (2014: 36 percent.)

Further honing its events portfolio last year, two of UBM’s events were sold and 47 events were discontinued, as well as the company also added three events businesses in 2015.

The acquisition of Hospitalar enhances UBM’s presence in the healthcare sector.  The show, which is the leading healthcare event in Brazil, is expected to experience good growth despite the weak macroeconomic backdrop.  The acquisition also makes UBM the third largest organizer in Brazil. 

The buyout of the eMedia joint venture results in control of CIOE, a show that has been operating in Shenzhen for more than 20 years and which strengthens UBM’s portfolio in China.

Both events are ‘major’ events while CSTPF, the third acquisition, is a small digital textile printing show in China.

With the sale of PR Newswire, company officials said they would pursue further acquisition activities “that meet our strict financial criteria.”

Looking into the future, Cobbold said, “The Board expects continued good growth (excluding the impact of biennials and ongoing portfolio rationalization) although it remains conscious of the global macroeconomic uncertainty. It also expects further margin progress although this will be offset by the even-year biennial effect.” 

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.