The NEC Group is targeting an upsurge in trade over the next 12 months as the music business fights back from a worldwide slump in major artists touring.
Bosses of the Solihull-based group, which supports almost 29,000 jobs, said they are confident of an upturn in fortunes in the live music sector following a lacklustre year.
The group, which also owns catering business Amadeus and national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory, saw its annual deficit widen to £20.2 million from £7.7 million last year after interest on historic loans was taken into account.
But NEC bosses said the financial performance – which delivered an operating profit of £16.9 million in the year to March 31 2012 – was marginally ahead of expectations.
Star acts which performed during the period included Rhianna, Status Quo and Neil Diamond but NEC Chief Operating Officer John Hornby forecast a bright future for the group, including the LG Arena, currently the seventh most popular live music venue in the world according to a recent US-based survey.
He said: “The real decline year on year was in the Arena and Tickets Factory business and that was on the back of the music market which was really depressed in the whole of the Western World in 2011.
“But we are very positive about the long-term prospects for the music market. Live music goes in cycles and sometimes you get blips. Consumer confidence across a lot of the Western World was fragile in 2011 and promoters were cautious. 2012 will be a much better year than 2011 for the music market.”
Mr Hornby said forthcoming concerts by the likes of George Michael, Lionel Ritchie and Justin Bieber were likely to bolster the NEC Group’s financial fortunes. “We are now seeing a much stronger flow across all genres, particularly music.”
The group’s exhibition business, based at The NEC in Solihull, individually delivered a profit of £27.5 million, but the figure was £10.1 million (27 per cent) down on the previous year.