Global B2B events and media business Tarsus Group is forecasting a strong year ahead, bolstered by the lifting of China’s strict zero-Covid policy and a robust organic launch strategy.
The group’s portfolio comprises a number of leading event brands, including the Dubai Airshow, Labelexpo, Hometex and Connect Meetings. In light of the growing demand for in-person events post-pandemic Tarsus successfully launched 8 new events in 2022 and 15 additional new launches are planned for 2023, alongside significant investment in digital initiatives.
The business’ footprint has for some time been strategically focussed on key territories, mainly outside of the UK and Europe. Tarsus has a particularly strong presence in the US, where the domestic tradeshow industry has proven resilient and demand for events is buoyant, as well as large operations in the Middle East and China.
Having sustained the challenges of recent years, Tarsus saw in-person events reopen fully in all of its territories, excluding China, across 2022 with strong attendance and revenues – returning to 85% of pre-pandemic levels. Recent relaxation of restrictions in China are expected to translate favourably for the group, with demand for both domestic events and outbound Chinese sales across the Tarsus portfolio increasing dramatically since the start of this year.
Commenting on the group’s outlook, Tarsus Group CEO Douglas Emslie said: “Following the volatile trading conditions of recent years, we are looking ahead to an ongoing recovery across the business. In spite of geopolitical and economic headwinds, trading in 2022 was brisk and we will see a number of our market-leading events take place in 2023. The reopening of the Chinese market and gradual resumption of travel there means we are seeing a positive impact on trading much earlier than expected in Q1.”
As the events industry continues to recover post-Covid, so too is the travel industry adjusting to the reopening of China and increased demand for international travel; staff shortages and visa-processing delays are likely to continue to impact travel in the near-term. Emslie predicts this will have knock-on effect on event destinations and business travel: “We expect those markets with strong regional demand, such as the US, China and Middle East to bounce back even more robustly this year, whilst there may still be a lag in some of the more traditional event destinations. Over time, we expect to see some of the market share moving permanently to developing event destinations, especially in the Middle East. The UAE, where we are one of the leading organisers, continues to grow as an attractive event destination. The D33 Agenda was recently launched by the ruler of Dubai, a key priority of which is to make the emirate one of the top three international destinations for tourism and business by providing a globally competitive environment. We are also seeing the government in Saudi Arabia signalling its intent to develop the kingdom’s event infrastructure with the launch of the Events Investment Fund. Ease of travel and the growing desire to combine business and leisure travel will be increasingly important considerations for the industry.”
He continued: “Thanks to our growing operations in key territories we believe the group is well placed to build on our current platform to deliver growth and value. We are optimistic about achieving above pre-pandemic levels this year and are firmly looking ahead. We are concentrating on delivering our 2023-2025 strategy – we are focussing on accelerating organic growth, continuing brand expansions, along with an increasing focus on digital initiatives and will be making investments to support that growth.”
The group has also announced new appointments to and within the business to deliver its strategic objectives. Lisa Milburn has been promoted to Group Director and will join the main Board, a role which will see her managing a number of key divisions, as well as driving organic growth. A Tarsus Group stalwart, Milburn has been with the group for over 20 years having progressed through the business to head up the Labels division. Nick Davison will join Tarsus to take up the role of managing director of the Labels division; Davison joins from Hyve Group where he headed up the Breakbulk portfolio. Underlining the group’s commitment to growing digital revenues, Richard Stanton has been appointed as President, Digital for Tarsus Group where he will work to develop and build on the current digital portfolio. Stanton has a strong record of delivering digital transformation within the industry, most notably at Penton Media and Informa.
Emslie highlighted the importance of people in sustaining the business through recent challenges and getting the business back on track as restrictions were lifted: “Our people have dealt with an incredibly challenging period, with limited forward visibility and difficult operating circumstances. They have helped us to get our events back up and running quickly and the business has recovered well as a result. I am delighted to welcome Richard and Nick to Tarsus Group and congratulate Lisa on her well-deserved promotion. I’m looking forward to working with them and our global team as we drive the business forward.”