The NEC Group has posted a loss of £7.7m despite a positive performance with an operating profit of £29.4m for the year ending 31 March 2011.
The Birmingham and Solihull-based operator of four exhibition and events venues and owner of caterer Amadeus and national ticketing agency the Ticket Factory posted the deficit after meeting long-term venue upgrade costs and taking interest on historic loans into account.
However this figure was down from £12.3m in the previous financial year, despite an increase of £2m on the cost of investment in upgrading the venues.
The Group's exhibition business achieved profits of £37.6m, up £8m (27%) on the previous year, which partly reflected an ‘up' year in the normal four yearly exhibition cycle as well as a gradual recovery in the performance of a number of large trade exhibitions was also credited.
The Arenas and Ticket Factory businesses delivered a record operating profit of £5.2m, up 36.8% (£1.4m), with the latter increasing ticket sales by 81% to 2.35m.
Group Convention Centres reported a 25.0% (£0.9m) increase in operating profit to £4.5m - this figure incorporates the trading results of the ICC together with fees earned from the contract to provide management services to The Convention Centre, Dublin.
The NEC Group said this reflected a partial recovery in activity levels following the severe downturn in corporate conference business due to recessionary factors in 2009/10.
John Hornby, chief operating office, said the results represent a "strong recovery" from the very difficult trading conditions the NEC Group had to contend with in the last financial year.
He said: "The exhibitions and conferencing businesses have performed well, delivering slow but sure recovery from their results in 2009/10, and we are delighted with the growth levels reported in our arenas and ticketing business."
But he added that the exhibition cycle and difficult market conditions, particularly those events involving direct consumer spend, leads the Group to expect the 2011/12 period to be less profitable.
By Janie Stamford
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