Shropshire Star

NEC Birmingham celebrates growth of the exhibitions industry

The UK’s exhibition industry continues to show growth, resilience and creativity, according to the latest research conducted with the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre and other UK venues.

The Security Event. Photograph: Leo Johnson Photography

Released by The Events Industry Alliance, the report assesses the size and scale index of the UK’s exhibitions industry.

The 2023 research confirms that the industry is on a promising post-Brexit, post-pandemic path to growth and recovery. In 2023, there were an estimated 6.92 million visits to exhibitions at the UK’s main exhibition venues.

The report found the four primary venues, NEC Birmingham, ExCeL, Olympia, and SEC, hosted 38 per cent of all exhibitions held in 2023. They hosted a higher proportion of trade exhibitions – 49 per cent.

Primary venues also hosted larger exhibitions overall, with the highest proportion of ‘large’ and ‘very large’ exhibitor numbers. Exhibitions with 151 to more than 300 exhibiting companies marked 42 per cent of the total exhibitions hosted.

Ian Taylor, managing director for exhibitions at the NEC Group said: “It’s hugely promising that the UK’s exhibition industry continues to showcase growth and resilience. The trade generated from the thousands of exhibitions that take place every year across the UK proves that that our industry is a successful, key driver of economic activity.

“A vital industry to UK PLC, it’s encouraging to see the demand for face-to-face exhibitions in both the trade and consumer markets grow year on year.”

The scale of the exhibition sector continues to grow with the number of exhibiting companies per event up 16 per cent and 51 per cent of exhibitions held at primary venues were 8,000 sq metres or more in size.

The Security Event is the largest security event in Europe and has taken place at the NEC for four editions, soon to be five from April 30 to May 2. In its tenure, the show has more than doubled in size, with this year's offering playing host to more than 1,000 exhibitors. It is co-located with The Fire Safety Event, The Health and Safety Event, National Cyber Security Show and The Workplace Event across 45,000 sq ft of event space.

Crufts has taken place at the NEC since 1991 and attracts thousands of dogs with their owners and handlers to showcase their dogs' skills and abilities to adoring crowds. In 2023, Crufts welcomed 155,000 attendees (not including the dogs), a 17.7 per cent increase from the 2022 outing.

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