The NEC Group made a bumper profit of almost £35 million over the last year – a period which is known in the industry as the lowest point of the traditional four-year exhibition cycle.
The group runs the National Exhibition Centre, the NEC Arena, the International Convention Centre and the National Indoor Arena.
The Group’s exhibition business individually delivered £26.3 million of the operating profit of £34.9 million in the year to March 31, 2008.
It means a surplus of £2.9 million being paid to Birmingham City Council after historical loans taken out to build the venues were taken into account.
Among the highlights for the group was the performance of the ICC, which delivered both record turnover and profit.
The venue also scooped the title of the UK’s premier purpose-built conference venue for the second consecutive year in a competition organised by leading industry publication Conference & Incentive Travel.
Operating profit at the city centre-based venue was up 12 per cent on the previous year. Almost all of this increase was attributable to a contract to operate the new national Convention Centre in Dublin, which is scheduled to open in 2010.
The ICC is now looking forward to holding the Conservative Party conference in September.
The Group’s Arenas division, comprising the NEC Arena, The NIA and The Ticket Factory, built on a strong performance in 2006-07 with a further 2.6 per cent increase in operating profit.
The programme of updating the NEC continued, with £28.3 million of the £40 million Venue Improvement Programme fund spent by March 31.
The NEC Group’s chief operating officer John Hornby said: “These are a strong set of financial results even though 2007-08 was at the low point of our regular exhibition cycle. Despite the hardening economic conditions, we delivered a result that was ahead of our internal expectations.
“Whilst the direct financial performance of the NEC Group is very important, the indirect impact the business has on the regional economy is of greater significance. This was underlined by a recent KPMG survey which showed more than £2 billion a year comes into the West Midlands because of the NEC Group’s activities and that we support 29,000 jobs.
“The £28 million project to upgrade the NEC Arena is now progressing rapidly following the signing of a major sponsorship deal with electronics giant LG and we are looking forward to progress plans for a £90 million leisure and entertainment complex which stands to transform the NEC site.”