Recovery continues to build as events return in the UK and US

Hyve Group plc today announces a trading update for the year ending 30 September 2021, prior to entering its close period ahead of its preliminary results announcement.
The Group delivered a strong trading performance in the fourth quarter of 2021, contributing to full year revenues of c. £55m. This was underpinned by the quality of the Group’s portfolio and return of events in the UK and US, which were possible for the first time since February 2020 thanks to the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions. During the quarter the Group ran 11 shows in total across the UK, US, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.
The Western events performed better-than-expected, driven by the significant pent-up demand for in-person events, coupled with strong customer relationships maintained throughout the pandemic. As expected, the events were at a smaller scale than their pre-pandemic levels as a direct result of the international travel restrictions that remain in place.
While the return of events in the UK and US is a great step towards resuming a full schedule of events globally, there remain COVID-19 associated disruptions, as evidenced by the recent reintroduction of restrictions in Shanghai. This resulted in two of the Group’s Chinese events that were scheduled to run in August having to be postponed.
There are three encouraging trends emerging from those events which have run since markets have reopened. Firstly, many of the Group’s events have seen an increase in like-for-like customer spend, with customers who attended both 2019 and 2021 events spending comparatively more, acknowledging the unique potential offered by market leading in-person events to rebuild networking and trading post-pandemic. Secondly, there is a direct correlation between event performance and the amount of time that has passed since restrictions have lifted, i.e. events continue to recover as markets and communities normalise. Thirdly, the Group is seeing an increase in visitor density, meaning the number of visitors per exhibitor is higher post-pandemic and therefore delivering increased value to exhibitors.
Strong performance achieved by returning UK and US events
During the quarter the Group ran its first Groceryshop event since acquiring the Shoptalk and Groceryshop businesses in December 2019. Groceryshop took place in September in Las Vegas and performed in line with expectations. The event brought together the e-commerce retail community, facilitating in-person networking and face-to-face interaction in a COVID-19 safe environment.
Also in September, the Group ran its first in-person events in the UK since the outbreak of the pandemic, including Autumn Fair. The event received extremely positive feedback from its customer community, which benefited from the pent-up demand to trade, network and learn.
Improved balance sheet and net debt better than expectations
The Group continues to maintain its strong liquidity position and has significant cash headroom. Net debt at the period end was £80m, an improved position compared to that expected under the scenarios previously presented. This was due in part to timing differences, strong cash collections for upcoming events, continued cost control and cash management and £87m of insurance proceeds secured since the start of the pandemic.
Omnichannel rollout continues
The Group continues to develop and refine its omnichannel strategy. Shoptalk Fall Meetup is scheduled to run in October ahead of the Group’s first Shoptalk in-person event in March 2022. The Group also ran a successful trial of its facilitated meetings programme in September, introducing Curated Meetings at Autumn Fair. Work is now underway to integrate a full facilitated meetings programme at Bett in January 2022 and Spring Fair in February 2022.
Mark Shashoua, CEO of Hyve Group plc said:
Q4 has been a very positive step on the road to recovery, with events returning for the first time in the UK and US and exhibitors at many of our events increasing their spend compared to pre-pandemic levels. Groceryshop was run for the first time since its acquisition which was a landmark moment, while Autumn Fair achieved positive customer feedback.
We have delivered strong performances wherever we have been able to hold shows. Our omnichannel rollout continues at pace with the successful trial of our Curated Meetings programme at Autumn Fair, and we look forward to our next fully online networking event, Shoptalk Fall Meetup, taking place in October.
The achievements of this quarter are the culmination of the tireless efforts made throughout the pandemic by our teams across Hyve. As we look ahead, we are in a much stronger financial and operational position and are excited to continue to connect vibrant industry communities, through our unmissable in-person events, online platforms and productive facilitated meeting programmes.