Arena Events reflects on ‘challenging year of progress’

Arena Events Group has reported on a “challenging year of progress” after outlining a reduction in losses and an increase in revenue.

Arena’s financial results for the full-year ending December 31, 2018 outlined a loss after tax of £2m (€2.3m/$2.6m) versus last year’s figure of £3.3m. Revenue for the year grew by 24% from £108.9m to £135m.

The event solutions and temporary infrastructure company said revenue grew in all regions, with organic growth in each region averaging 12% during the year. In the US, revenue growth was over £8m with around one third of that delivered organically.

In the Middle East & Asia region revenue grew by £9m, with approximately 50% coming from organic growth, particularly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. Finally, in the UK there was over £9m of revenue growth, most of which was organic but largely due to one off projects such as golf events the Ryder Cup in Paris and the Nordea Masters in Sweden.

Arena chief executive Greg Lawless said: “2018 was a year of continued progress and growth for the group, both organically and through eight strategic acquisitions across our three regional divisions. Each of these acquisitions contributes towards our ambition of becoming the leading, most respected, integrated event solutions business in the world.

“We expect another year of growth in 2019 assisted by a full year’s contribution from our eight acquisitions. We will also continue to focus on completing the integration of the most recent acquisitions and supporting the new UK management team with the implementation of identified operational improvements.

“Furthermore in 2020, the return of the US Open, coupled with the addition of a number of major events including the US Ryder Cup and the Tokyo Olympics, give us confidence that we will continue to see organic growth across the group beyond 2019.”

Lawless’ reference to the UK management team comes after a difficult start to 2019 for the company. Arena in January said it was taking a more conservative outlook for 2019 after its share price was sent tumbling by the announcement of a significant reduction in the overall profitability of its UK division.

In March, Arena Events Group appointed Chris Morris as chief executive of its UK and Europe division as it sought to address these issues. Commenting on the financial results, Arena chairman Ken Hanna said: “We outlined our strategy in last year’s annual report and I am pleased to say the group successfully completed eight acquisitions during the year, including two significant opportunities, Stuart Rentals in California and TGP in Dubai. We are extremely pleased with all our acquisitions in 2018 and they have performed in line with expectations.

“Although adjusted earnings per share increased by 19% during the year, with contributions from our acquisitions and organic growth from our Americas and Middle East divisions, the UK structures and scaffolding division had a difficult last quarter.

“Historically, the UK structures division has been a consistent performer and it was particularly disappointing that their performance shortfall impacted the group’s results for the year. We have taken decisive action and made significant changes to the UK management team, including appointing a new UK & Europe CEO, Chris Morris, which we announced in March 2019.

“While the board remains committed to the strategy outlined at the time of our IPO, we recognise that 2019 will need to be a year of consolidation and improvement within certain parts of our business.”