Hundreds of jobs set to be axed as revenue plummets at NEC Group

Hundreds of jobs are set to be cut at the NEC Group after coronavirus saw the company's income plummet to almost nothing.

The NEC was converted into a Nightingale Hospital to help the NHS during the pandemic
The NEC was converted into a Nightingale Hospital to help the NHS during the pandemic

The Birmingham group has announced an organisational review that could lead to a restructure that puts hundreds of roles at risk at the National Exhibition Centre, International Convention Centre, Resorts World Arena, Utilita Arena Birmingham and the Vox Conference Venue.

The cancellation and postponement of live events as a result of Covid-19 has hit the NEC Group hard, with pre-pandemic annual revenues of £160 million falling to almost nothing between mid-March and this month.

The group employs 800 full-time and 1,200 part-time staff but had furloughed 90 per cent of its workforce after the lockdown was announced in March.

Meanwhile the entirety of the NEC has been provided rent free to the NHS as a Nightingale Hospital, although the thousands of beds in the centre's six halls have been almost entirely unused.

Inside the NEC Nightingale Hospital

It has just been put back on high alert as coronavirus cases have surged across the West Midlands and the UK.

The NEC Group said a restructure was needed to protect the long-term future of the business, with the consultation set to begin when furloughing ends on October 12.

A statement said: “Our business serves as a great economic driver in the West Midlands but Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on us. In the absence of a sector-specific extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, difficult decisions need to be made.

"In October we will be formally entering a consultation process with our employees about a proposed restructuring. It is with a heavy heart that as a result of this, we will lose some truly dedicated colleagues and friends that work within the group."

"This is indicative of the current uncertainty and challenges facing the events industry, which isn’t expected to recover for several years."

An aerial view of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham

The company is unable to access the £1.5bn support package provided by the Government to the cultural sector and said that without job losses it would be responsible for a wage bill of more than £3m month when furlough ends.

The group's five venues offer almost 250,000 sq metres of covered space, with the company claiming to contribute more than £3 billion to the West Midlands economy.

"Worth £70 billion to the UK economy, the industry was one of the first to cease operations and will be one of the last to recover," the statement continued.

"As the group prepares to enter the recovery phase following the pandemic, it continues to work closely with industry associations and its supply chain, ensuring their collective state of readiness is translated into the resumption of safe live events as soon as possible."

The NEC Group normally welcomes seven million people to 750 events every year and it had doubled its operating profits in the three years to 2019 to £64m.

The Classic Motor Show due to take place at the NEC from November 11 to 13 became the latest event to be postponed this week.

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