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Informa 10-month trading update points to sixth year of growth

International exhibitions, events and information services group Informa has revealed underlying revenue growth of 2.8% for the 10 months to 31 October 2019, despite an “unpredictable economic/geo-political backdrop,” said group chief executive Stephen Carter.

On top of continued growth in revenue, Carter reported adjusted profit, earnings and cashflow and a full year performance “on track” for the group.

The trading update also predicted a seasonally strong November and December trading period, which is still to be factored into the figures. This end-of-year period makes up around 20% of the group’s annual revenues, with November alone accounting for more than £350m. Carter thought that the annual revenue growth figure could, therefore, come in nearer 3.5%.

Informa also reported a divestiture of the Industry & Infrastructure Media Brands Portfolio, following on from the sale of the Life Sciences Media Brands Portfolio and the Agribusiness Portfolio, as well as portfolio changes in Informa Connect. It is also a collection of largely advertising-funded information brands serving industrial markets.

In terms of expansion, the period under review had been a minority investment in Founders Forum and launch of a joint venture with Informa Tech to support the next phase of growth in technology innovation and entrepreneurship.

The issue of a new €500m (£430m) bond was designed to strengthen the balance sheet and to lower the cost of overall debt and had involved extending average maturity to five and a half years.

Assimilating the UBM business continues through the Accelerated Integration Plan.

Following a period of major restructuring and reinvestment through the Growth Acceleration Plan, the business is now performing consistently, with improving levels of growth in its specialist markets of Pharma, Retail Banking and Maritime, the update noted.

At Informa Markets’ specialist international B2B platforms for trade and commerce there were strong performances through the third quarter, among others, in Health & Nutrition (SupplySide West), Hospitality, Food & Beverage (Hotelex) and Design & Furniture (Furniture China).

The update noted: “We are planning for growth in all key segments of the market, from Enterprise IT to The Internet of Things. This is reflected in our progress through 2019, with strong recent performances in Security (Blackhat) and Artificial Intelligence (AI Summit) delivering 10-month underlying revenue growth of 1.7%, against a full year target of 2%.”

Informa Markets also reported progress in its Fashion portfolio following the launch of the Fashion GAP Plan, stemming the historical decline in attendance over previous years, improving NPS scores and successfully launching OneMagic. The aim is to target to return the Fashion portfolio to growth by 2021.

The Group had two market-specific, in-year impacts through the period under review: in Dubai, increasing commitment to World Expo 2020, combined with challenging market conditions, has had a significant effect on traditional exhibitions investment, particularly in Real Estate & Construction, impacting Cityscape Global, in September. In Hong Kong, where the group generates around 4% of revenue, recent civil protests have had a small impact on revenue growth at some events. This affected Informa’s largest brand in the region during September, the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Show, although a strong programme of support, including investment in additional security and transport, ensured the show still ran effectively.