450 jobs to go at NEC Group as Covid crisis forces restructure

The group that owns the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham is shedding 450 of its full-time staff.

The National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham
The National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham

NEC Group, which also takes in the International Convention Centre, Vox, Utilita Arena Birmingham and Resorts World Arena, had previously announced the need to restructure.

It is now proposing redundancies for 55 per cent of its permanent workforce as a result of the business not being able to host any large-scale events since March, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The 45-year-old group generated pre-pandemic annual revenues of approximately £160 million, employing up to 2,200 full-time, part-time and occasional workers in largely event-driven roles.

This helped enable a wider economic impact of £3 billion, supporting approximately 40,000 jobs, in the West Midlands.

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The group, which also covers The Ticket Factory, Amadeus catering and hospitality company Amplify, faces the prospect of a total period of around 18 months with minimal activity and almost zero revenue. This includes time to get back to pre-pandemic operational levels.

It says current restrictions simply do not permit events to be held on a viable basis.

In order to bounce back as rapidly as possible, the group plans to retain a base level of staff until it is again able to host a significant volume of large-scale events. This course of action will potentially impact the permanent positions of approximately 450 people.

Stringent

NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi said: “It has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but if we have any chance of surviving the current market conditions, and returning to being a major economic contributor, post-pandemic, we must reduce our cost base significantly.

“The retraction of the October 1 date, which would have permitted us to hold trade exhibitions and conferences with over 30 visitors, was a major blow. Like all major venues, the Group has implemented stringent safety measures to ensure its venues can safely host business events and conferences, and welcome back the staff who have been on furlough since April.

“For companies like us, with minimal levels of activity, we are unable to make use of the Government’s recently announced Job Support Scheme. This, together with this sector’s inability to access the £1.57 billion culture support package, has added to what has become an unsustainable position.

“Live events are integral to long-term economic recovery. We ask that the Government work with strategic economic assets like us, to ensure that a balanced and fast-moving economy remains to face the challenges beyond 2020.”

The group says that it will continue to advocate for the sector independently alongside industry bodies, in the hope that the UK can resume its leadership position within the global live events sector as soon as is safely possible.

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