Covid propels NEC Group to major losses

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The full impact of pandemic on live events giant NEC Group has laid bare on its newly-published financial results.

The company has reported a loss of £46m for the year ended March 31 – a huge drop from a profit of £50m in 2020.

Understandably, with large-scale events ruled out because of Covid, NEC Group’s turnover also dropped dramatically – down from £159m to just £26m to the end of March.

To mitigate against the devastating effects of the pandemic on the live events sector, principal shareholder, Blackstone, injected £50m into the group during the financial year. The company also saved £12.5m in furloughing staff and took a Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan of £30m.

NEC Group says it is in a “strong” financial position with £101m of cash on its balance sheet as at 31 March 2021.

Chief financial officer, Richard Ashton, said: “The past 18 months have been extremely difficult for many businesses, including our own. As a live events business that has been unable to host events, this has required decisive action and careful financial management.

“We are very fortunate to have such supportive shareholders, as well as a strong relationship with our banks who have supported us during the year with additional cash resources when we needed it. This is in part due to how well the business was performing before lockdown occurred, but also due to their belief that the business will recover strongly, now that we have re-opened.

“With lockdown measures eased, we are now running events again and we have an ambitious programme planned over the next few months. While we will continue to face short-term headwinds, including challenges around staffing levels and increased costs due to COVID-19 measures, we remain committed to our vision to become Europe’s most successful live events business, operating leading leisure, entertainment and business destinations.”

NEC Group includes Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, the International Convention Centre, Vox Conference Venue, Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena Birmingham, as well as caterer Amadeus and national ticketing agency, The Ticket Factory.