Interview: Steve Barratt

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn
You don’t have to read too deeply into the title of Steve Barratt’s new firm to see his feelings on his personal journey across the exhibition industry. A former chief executive of Early Action Group and SO Group, a founder member and inaugural chairman of ESSA and ex-chairman of the Event Industry Alliance, Barratt is an industry heavyweight who after some time out of the game, is back in the ring and ready to trade a few punches. And he’s looking to slug above his weight too. “We will look to take a step back from the large corporates that seem to have a majority position,” he said. In simple terms, his new venture Full Circle is a new all-services provider for the exhibition industry. The company is based in Manchester and currently has 14 employees across sales, project management and administration. The firm’s tagline will be ‘Where I want to be.’ As EN went to press, the firm is securing a deal to buy one company Neuvision Events and is in the later stages of discussion in buying another company. Barratt spent several months out of the exhibition firing line researching the market before making his move back. And he sees this new venture as finding a niche in the market. “Because of the developments in the market with Freeman and GES, there’s a space that now needs to be filled,” said Barratt. “We will be people-driven not corporate. It’s not about size, it’s about quality. “At the current time we have Chelsea and Manchester City sized companies. So we can’t outspend them.” Barratt acknowledges that the two major players of GES and Freeman UK have a major take in the market. But he insists there is still choice out there for clients. “It’s no use speaking six languages if you speak them badly, and if 95 per cent of your exhibitors speak English,” he said. “There are three sets of delivery needs: Pre-Show, onsite and aftershow. They should all have 33 and a third per cent of the importance for a supplier.” The firm will be shared ownership, but he dismissed a comparison with John Lewis. “Everyone talks about John Lewis as a shared ownership model. Aren’t there any others out there? I’m from up north, so let’s go with the Co-Op.” Barratt is open about his recruitment policy and strategy for the firm. Back in 2011, EAG and Opex merged to create a unified event and exhibition services company for the UK and global market. The newly-combined group encompassed Opex, Stanco, ExpoSystems, Excel Invision and Early Action Group. This group formed the basis for the creation of SO Group. “Full Circle will have the values of the Early Action Group. They couldn’t have been all bad,” he smiled. “The firm will have a lot of familiar faces from Early Action Group.” With SO Group, Barr att pulls no punches. He was put on gardening leave by the firm and failed to agree terms with Freeman. “I have no bitterness with SO Group or Freeman but I do have a distaste for how they have handled the former employees of EAG.” Barratt says that SO Group, at that time, was a firm already approaching troubled waters. “What I found was an organisation and its management which was desperately in need of modernisation,” he said. “But I think the firm wasn’t willing to do it. You can ask whether I was the right person to do it. But the fact is, it needed to happen. The consequences are now clear to everybody in the industry.” So with a period out of the exhibition market, EN asked what tempted Barratt back into the fold. After all he has two young sons, aged four and two to occupy his time. “I’ve got a young family and being on gardening leave made me appreciate that,” he said. “But when I met people from the market, I realised how much I missed the buzz of it.” “I don’t think we appreciate the quality of people working in this industry. When you take into consideration the constraints of the UK market, venue restrictions, unsociable hours and the stresses and strains of what we do.” Full Circle wants to have a total involvement in the look feel and concept of a show and bring the personal touch, which he feels some contractors now lack. Barratt also gave a nod to his association history, by confirming that the new company will plan to join ESSA as soon as possible. “Exhibitions touch all parts of life,” he said. “But the more corporate we get, the more impersonal we get.” For those looking for a 360-degree level of service from this industry’s veteran’s new venture, you need only look at the title of the firm. This was first published in the August issue of EN. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

AEV publishes Size and Scale Index of Events

The Size and Scale Index of Events (SASiE) has published its latest report analysing the data collected over 2015 from the participating venues and organisers.

SMG Europe appointed operator of AECC

Aberdeen City Council has appointed venue operator SMG Europe to manage the existing Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) ahead of the move to its new purpose-built home in 2019.

QEII adds £100m to economy, finds report

The QEII Centre generated £218m of gross UK expenditure in 2015/16, creating a GVA (Gross Value Added) of £100m, according to a new economic impact study.

Elsewhere on EN

UFI and Explori sign three-year partnership

UFI and Explori sign three-year partnership

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has signed a three-year research partnership deal with London based insight specialists, Explori.
Media 10 summer party gives back to the community

Media 10 summer party gives back to the community

On 30 June, local pensioners were invited to a morning of live entertainment and high tea put on by Media10, with a fundraising initiative supporting charity War Child and a rare Spitfire performance.
Major new event campus coming to Newcastle Gateshead

Major new event campus coming to Newcastle Gateshead

A new multi million pound, state-of-the-art entertainment arena, and conference and exhibition centre is set for the North East, as plans by Gateshead Council push forward.

Poken by GES

Most read Stories

Building emerald cities

Building emerald cities

From Malaria to Blenheim, through to UBM, Jane Risby-Rose – the 20-year story of her yellow brick road industry journey.
Come to Confex and be inspired

Come to Confex and be inspired

The exhibition and events industry is all about the power of face-to-face, the art of exhibiting and networking with old friends and new, which is why EN would like to personally invite you to attend International Confex to learn more.
5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

Looking to the future and learning from the past at AEO Forums 2016.

Latest News

UFI and Explori sign three-year partnership

UFI and Explori sign three-year partnership

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has signed a three-year research partnership deal with London based insight specialists, Explori.
Media 10 summer party gives back to the community

Media 10 summer party gives back to the community

On 30 June, local pensioners were invited to a morning of live entertainment and high tea put on by Media10, with a fundraising initiative supporting charity War Child and a rare Spitfire performance.
Major new event campus coming to Newcastle Gateshead

Major new event campus coming to Newcastle Gateshead

A new multi million pound, state-of-the-art entertainment arena, and conference and exhibition centre is set for the North East, as plans by Gateshead Council push forward.

Latest Galleries

East of England Arena and Events Centre open day

East of England Arena and Events Centre open day

Following a refurbishment, rebrand and £4.4m investment, the East of England Arena and Events centre opened to event professionals on 21 June to explains developments at the venue and provide an insight into future plans. Guests were also treated to a once in a lifetime experience in various classic cars and more unusual vehicles.
London Dungeon Lates

London Dungeon Lates

The London Dungeons has launched a unique nighttime experience with the theme of the seven deadly sins. The adults only tour includes seven themed food offerings and a range of themed drinks.
This Morning Live

This Morning Live

Tens of thousands of fans descended on the NEC on 18-21 May for This Morning Live, to see talent from ITVs award-winning daytime programme arrive in style.

Latest Opinions

Going all out

Going all out

Lee Moulson, regional head of sales at Cheltenham Racecourse and the South West region of The Jockey Club, says seeing a client’s beaming smile cannot be bettered.
In any event...

In any event...

In his regular column, David Chalmers, Cvent ’s senior marketing director – Europe, speculates on the fate of the large trade show.
Ticking all the boxes

Ticking all the boxes

Paul Edwards, operations director at deckle edge, examines the minefield that is health and safety.