Events organiser Hyve Group plc has announced a trading update for the year ending 30 September 2021, prior to entering its close period ahead of its preliminary results announcement.
The Group delivered a strong trading performance in the fourth quarter of 2021, contributing to full year revenues of c. £55m (US$74.66m). This was underpinned by the return of events in the UK and US, which were possible for the first time since February 2020 thanks to the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions. During the quarter the Group ran 11 shows in total across the UK, US, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.
The Western events performed better-than-expected, driven by significant pent-up demand for in-person events and the maintaining of strong customer relationships throughout the pandemic. The events were at a smaller scale than their pre-pandemic levels due mostly to remaining international travel restrictions.
The Group noted Covid-19 associated disruptions remain despite the returning events in the UK and US, including the recent reintroduction of restrictions in Shanghai. This resulted in the postponement of two of the Group’s Chinese events scheduled to run in August.
Hyve said it identified three encouraging trends emerging from the events it has run since markets have reopened. Firstly, many of these events have seen an increase in like-for-like customer spend. Secondly, there is a direct correlation between event performance and the amount of time that has passed since restrictions have lifted, i.e. events continue to recover as markets and communities normalise. Thirdly, the Group is seeing an increase in visitor density, meaning the number of visitors per exhibitor is higher post-pandemic.
Strong performance by returning UK and US events
During the quarter the Group ran its first Groceryshop event since acquiring the Shoptalk and Groceryshop businesses in December 2019. Groceryshop took place in September in Las Vegas and performed “in line with expectations”, Hyve reported. The event brought together the e-commerce retail community in a Covid-19 safe environment.
Also in September, the Group ran its first in-person events in the UK since the outbreak of the pandemic, including Autumn Fair.
Improved balance sheet
The Group said it continued to maintain its strong liquidity position and has significant cash headroom. Net debt at the period end was £80m, an improved position compared to that expected under the scenarios previously presented. This was due, the Group said, in part to timing differences, strong cash collections for upcoming events, continued cost control and cash management and £87m of insurance proceeds secured since the start of the pandemic.
Omnichannel rollout continues
The Group continues to develop and refine its omnichannel strategy. Shoptalk Fall Meetup is scheduled to run in October ahead of the Group’s first Shoptalk in-person event in March 2022. The Group also ran a successful trial of its facilitated meetings programme in September, introducing Curated Meetings at Autumn Fair and Hyve said it was working on integrating a full facilitated meetings programme at Bett in January 2022 and Spring Fair in February 2022.
Mark Shashoua, CEO of Hyve Group said: “Q4 has been a very positive step on the road to recovery, with events returning for the first time in the UK and US and exhibitors at many of our events increasing their spend compared to pre-pandemic levels. Groceryshop was run for the first time since its acquisition which was a landmark moment, while Autumn Fair achieved positive customer feedback.
“We have delivered strong performances wherever we have been able to hold shows. Our omnichannel rollout continues at pace.”
Shashoua added the Group was in “a much stronger financial and operational position and excited to continue to connect vibrant industry communities, through our unmissable in-person events, online platforms and productive facilitated meeting programmes”.