Organiser Interview: easyFairs Group

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In the UK marketplace, easyFairs has carved a hefty niche. The organiser specialises in trade shows focusing on the packaging, tank storage, oil and gas sectors, utilising mainly the large space The NEC provides. After running as separate entities for several years, Artexis Group, parent company of the organiser, has now officially joined, in title at least. In all, there are 35 staff in the UK office in Twickenham, west London. But the business is actively looking to grow, according to Matt Benyon, managing director, easyFairs UK & Global. Benyon has more than 16 years’ experience in the industry. Prior to joining easyFairs, he was group exhibitions director for Expomedia Group where he was in charge of the group’s portfolio of global exhibitions covering the UK, India, Germany and Russia. Between February 2002 and May 2008 Benyon was managing director at London-based Montgomery International, the division of the Montgomery Group responsible for launching key brands abroad. “We have a multi-pronged attack,” he said. “We are looking at strategic acquisitions. These could be companies or shows. We would also look at conference led exhibitions.”     The organiser’s UK shows come under several brands with many of them co-located. These are Packaging Innovations, Empack, Label&Print, Luxury Packaging, Lab Innovations, Facilities Management and Maintec. New show Facilities Management was co-located with Maintec at The NEC on 11-13 March. The biggest combined show is Packaging Innovations, Empack and Label&Print, held at The NEC in February. The last show had 6,004 visitors and 330 exhibitors, up from 5,093 and 320 respectively. The organiser also has a London event - Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging - which next takes place at the Business Design Centre in London on 30 September and 1 October. In 2013, it had 3,560 visitors and 170 exhibitors, up from 3,020 and 139 respectively. In addition, Lab Innovations will next take place on 5-6 November at The NEC. Packaging Innovations was an integral launchpad for the easyFairs brand, back in 2004. “Packaging Innovations helped launch easyFairs,” said Benyon. In creating the easyFairs ethos, the stress was on quality. “We wanted to create a level playing-field,” said Benyon. “We wanted shows based on products, rather than size of the stands.” EasyFairs is not a strictly UK business. It also runs shows in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The organiser aims to give international exhibitors an affordable opportunity to explore new markets, typically working through a sales representative in their own country and in their own language. In all, there is a little under 400 staff worldwide. It also claims that all stand modules at an exhibition are reusable, minimising carbon footprint and that it also gives buyers and suppliers a platform 365 days a year via My easyFairs and its online product directory which allows exhibitors to promote their participation at easyFairs trade shows. Last year the organiser secured a notable business deal when it agreed a deal to roll out N200’s new Visit Connect software. The software and app enables exhibitors to scan a QR code on visitor badges onsite to get contact details and other information in the N200 visitor registration system. As an overall business, the Artexis group can boast some impressive numbers. In 2012-3, it claimed 175,651 visitors and 7,624 exhibitors across its portfolio. In its latest results for the 12 months up to June 2013, Artexis reported a 17 per cent increase in revenues to £77m for its financial year 2012-13 and a 39 per cent leap in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) to £9.9m, with easyFairs accounting for around half that revenue. Artexis also owns two Swedish and three Belgian venues. Benyon told EN that Artexis aims to create £200m euros (£167m) in revenue in the next financial year. But before the firm looks to hit this target, Benyon also revealed a company policy to help maintain and support business. “Every single person calls visitors before they start work,” said Benyon. He himself had made a call the morning of the interview despite being out on the road for most of the day. With this attention and dedication to the visitor, the company can continue making things look very easy indeed.  This was first published in the April issue of EN. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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