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Posts Tagged ‘EC&O’

Redeveloped West Hall opens at Olympia

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Venue owner Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) has opened Olympia’s redeveloped West Hall as planned. Part of a 20 million investment in Olympia by EC&O’s parent company – Capital & Counties (Capco) – the improvements include the addition of a floor to transform the West Hall into a two-storey, 90,000-square-foot exhibition facility. Links have also been created to the Grand Hall and Olympia Two behind the restored façade.

Nigel Nathan, EC&O Venues Managing Director, said, “Our vision for Olympia respects the fabric of this historic building whilst also making the internal space easier to access and more flexible for organisers to use. These enhancements protect our heritage and position the Olympia complex for the future.”

Karim Halwagi, Chief Executive of the Association of Event Organisers, believes the enhancements will help stimulate the London event market.

“The expansion of space at Olympia is a positive step for the exhibition industry as it will help both large and small shows grow,” he said. “Large shows will be able to get better utilisation and visitor flows while small shows will have more flexibility to expand.”

EC&O dismisses TfL’s special tube service

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

In the latest chapter in the long-running saga of tube services from Olympia to Olympia exhibition centre, venue owner Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) has played down a special underground service to be provided for 20 shows at the venue during the next six months.

Following negotiations with Transport for London (TfL), the special services have been implemented now that the full weekday service has ended. Between January and June 2012, two trains an hour will run off-peak to the venue on weekdays, with the full District line service continuing to operate at weekends and on Bank Holidays. Shows to get the special tube service include the London International Horse Show, the Doctor Who Experience and the National Wedding Show.

EC&O, however, has been rather dismissive, urging visitors to use the overground train service instead. Said EC&O Head of Marketing, Tom Lambregts, “The best way to get to Olympia is on the excellent overground service. It is a far more frequent service, with up to seven trains an hour.”

The full list of the shows set to receive the special District Line service is as follows:

London International Horse Show,13-19 Dec

BETT 2012, 11-13 Jan

Doctor Who Experience, 12-13 Jan & Feb 13-14

Toy Fair, 25-26 Jan

Learning Tech Exhibition, 25-26 Jan

Cloud Expo Europe, 25 Jan

Pure Womenswear Spring, 13-14 Feb

London Investor, Feb 24

Who do you think you are! Feb 24

The National Wedding Show, 24 Feb

Stitch & Craft, 16 Mar

Landscape, 16 Mar

Boden Sale, 16 Mar

British & International Franchise, 16 Mar

Social Media World Forum, 28 Mar

UCAS London, 28-30 Mar

Counter Terror Expo, 25-26 Apr

HRD, 25-26 Apr

Spirit of Summer,16-18 May

Café Culture, 16-17 May

Allergy Show, 18 May

Medical Commissioning, 27-28 Jun

Marketing Week Live, 27-28 Jun

Diversified boss urges Boris to save Earls Court

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Carsten Holm, Managing Director of Diversified Business Communications UK, has written an open letter to London Mayor, Boris Johnson, urging him to get behind Earls Court and help fight plans for it to be developed into housing, stating that it is “not too late”.

In the letter, dated 6 October, Holm raises “serious concerns” about the future of Earls Court and states that he is “absolutely appalled” by the prospect of losing “this important venue”.

Capital and Counties (Capco), owner of the site, is planning to bulldoze the exhibition facility and commence construction of both commercial and residential property as early as the end of 2012. The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has been lobbying the government to prevent the redevelopment, or at least ensure that it includes a ‘new’ Earls Court exhibition centre.

The full text of the letter reads as follows:

“Dear Mr Johnson,

I am writing this email as the managing director of Diversified Business Communications UK, an international organiser of trade exhibitions, and I want to raise my serious concerns about the likely redevelopment of Earls Court exhibition centre. Along with the rest of the industry, I am absolutely appalled by the prospect of losing this important venue, our only major international venue in central London, due to private interests and property speculation. Yes, it is in need of modernisation and investment and could do with being redeveloped – but not as housing. In other countries, major exhibition and conference venues are seen as a crucial platform for business and a way to showcase products and facilitate business, but in this country, somehow, nobody really seems to care.

I recall a BBC Money Programme Special, broadcast a couple of months ago and presented by Evan Davies, in which Mr Davies posed the question of where, in this new age of outsourcing and increasingly little manufacturing, the jobs will be found in the future and to consider in which areas we are world leaders with competitive advantage. The two top sectors were ‘financial services’ (no surprise there) and as a ‘meeting place for the world’, where he considered us to be particularly well placed, due to language, airports, our trading heritage and London as a city. Yet the reality is that business people increasingly prefer to do business in other countries with much better conference and exhibition facilities, which, in the UK, are generally considered amongst the worst of any major international city.

Most major international cities have learned from the German model, where state-of-the-art exhibition centres form a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the cities and support commerce, and just look how successful Germany is today. They provide the single most important facility to promote a country’s products to the wider world, they are a source of pride, they generate significant income and employment, and they provide a place for people from around the world to do business. Yet here nobody seems to care, and those that should seem to be trying to make life for the commercial world, that powers the UK economy, as difficult as possible. It’s a bit like asking us to run a rail network without providing the stations.

The exception in the UK is, of course, Excel, which rightly I know you are a great supporter of, and it is a fantastic venue for certain types of events. But it doesn’t work for all and is too far from central London, and Heathrow, to be considered a viable alternative to a central London venue for many events. It is not a question of one or the other but that both have a place and that London needs a top international facility in the centre of the capital. It’s a huge issue for our industry and you simply cannot force people to go to venues they don’t want to go to – they choose another country.

People from outside the UK are incredulous at our general facilities and the lack of vision and planning, and I really feel it is about time we take stock and consider our priorities. We in the UK are world leaders as trade show organisers and we have the demand, yet we have the worst facilities of any major modern city. As a result, most major UK organisers – and yes, our companies are international leaders in this field – now focus on organising trade shows abroad, supporting foreign economies, rather than our own UK economy. We can afford to spend billions on an Olympic Games, which nobody seems interested in, yet, where we still have an opportunity to not just maintain but create something which will have a positive long term impact on the UK economy, we turn a blind eye, as if supporting the real world and encouraging commerce in the UK, is just a little too dirty to get involved with. I can’t imagine any other major economy taking the same stance. It is extremely depressing and reminds me of how we treated our motor industry.

I would very much welcome the opportunity to meet you in person to explain how other countries treat this important industry, to show images of their facilities and to discuss why we quite simply, for the sake of our nation, can’t allow this to happen.

It’s not too late and I appreciate your understanding of what lies before us. Please, as someone so passionate about changing our priorities and focusing on the long term, I urge you and your party to get involved and help to fight for this important cause.

Thank you. I have sent letters to Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Chelsea & Kensington and I have also communicated my concerns to Mr Cameron.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Carsten Holm
Managing director, Diversified Business Communications UK”

AEO hits back at Boris over Tube cuts

Friday, October 7th, 2011

The CEO of the Association of Event Organisers, Karim Halwagi, has written to Boris Johnson in response to the London Mayor’s announcement of plans to axe Tube services to Kensington Olympia on weekdays.

Part of the overhaul of the District Line, which comes into effect in December, the move has left event managers fuming amid fears that East London is receiving preferential treatment over West London in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Currently, the District Line transports 73 per cent of Olympia’s visitors from Earl’s Court to the venue, amounting to some 803,000 people a year. Mr Halwagi claims the service change will seriously undermine the exhibition and events industry in West London. His voice echoes general concern in the industry that, without the transport link, both event management and exhibition visitors might stay away.

Summing up, Mr Halwagi stated, “We are very angry and don’t feel that Boris Johnson has given the issue the proper consideration it merits.”

Olympia tube service cut

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Transport for London (TfL) has decided to go ahead with its plans to cut underground services to Olympia. Following a public consultation, TfL will implement the withdrawal of weekday tube services to Kensington Olympia in December. The organisation claims that almost 80% of people were in favour of the change. The Olympia tube service will continue to operate at weekends, as well as for major weekday events at the Olympia exhibition centre.

Commenting on the decision, Managing Director of the Earls Court & Olympia (EC&O) group, Nigel Nathan, said he was confident that Olympia remains the best-connected exhibition venue in London. The EC&O group had opposed the service cuts, being supported by the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and members of the local community. Former CEO of the AEO, Austin Hawkins, had previously warned that the service changes could “kill the events business there”.

TfL claims that the new timetable will “reduce delays” and bag “capacity for an additional 4,000 passengers on the Wimbledon branch every weekday morning”; the carrier will provide five extra trains to operate on the Wimbledon branch during the morning peak.

Mr Nathan said, “We are satisfied that Transport for London has acknowledged our concerns and confirmed that London Underground will provide a number of measures to mitigate any impact on Olympia, including a two train per hour shuttle service between High Street Kensington and Olympia via Earls Court when events at Olympia attract sufficient demand.” Apparently, London Underground has also committed to working with EC&O to ensure that Olympia visitors receive better information via the Journey Planner, station announcements and signage.

AEO and local residents fight Olympia tube closure

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The event industry is joining forces with the local community to protest against plans by Transport for London (TfL) to cut District Line services to Kensington (Olympia).

Austen Hawkins, CEO of the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), who is leading industry opposition to the move, has already met with local resident Brendan McGrath, editor of campaign website, to discuss how they can work together.

“Closing the District Line link to Olympia could kill the events business there, but away from my industry the closure of the line would have a real, and detrimental effect on local residents, particularly those with disabilities,” said Hawkins.

“Brendan has been fighting the closure on behalf of local residents. He has done an amazing job raising this issue, and has set up the excellent website which really highlights the many negative effects of the potential closure as well as telling people what they can do to save the connection. It makes total sense for us to work side by side in saving the line.”

Local residents and the AEO plan to organise a number of meetings with local politicians and possibly public protest events to highlight the importance of the connection to both business and the community.

“The consultation process has now been extended on three occasions, each time due to vigorous protests from local groups and politicians. It does make you think that they keep extending the process, because they are determined to push the closure through at any cost,” said Brendan McGrath.

EC&O to fight tube cuts

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) plans to lobby central and local government following the announcement last month by Transport for London (TfL) that it will cut District Line services to Kensington (Olympia) on weekdays from December.

The move is just part of TfL’s shake-up of District Line services. It is expected, however, that London Underground will operate a special service for major weekday events at London Olympia and that overground train services to Kensington (Olympia) will increase. For other passengers to London Olympia, London Underground has recommended use of the nearby Barons Court or West Kensington stations, which are within half a mile of the venue.

The news is a further blow to Olympia, which was recently given the elbow by Emap’s annual BETT education technology show in favour of London’s Excel. Earls Court, meanwhile, is under the axe of its owner, Capital and Counties (CapCo), which plans to bulldoze the exhibition centre and redevelop the 77-acre site with residential and commercial property.

EC&O has scheduled meetings with local councillors from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, as well as representatives from the Greater London Authority and London Underground. It also hopes to meet with Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring.

Last year 1.1 million people visited the venues at Olympia and the EC&O management claims it was not consulted about the cancellation of the service prior to its public announcement. Group Managing Director, Nigel Nathan, said, “The purpose of all these meetings is to ensure third-party stakeholders have all the information required to campaign on the issue and to steadily increase the pressure on TfL. We all know Olympia offers a central London venue which is uniquely embedded within the Underground network. We will fight to ensure that this continues to be the case.”

London Underground Strategy and Commercial Director, Richard Parry, has said that the new tube timetable is designed to deal with bottlenecks in the Earls Court area, which London Underground claims is one of the most complex junctions on the tube network and the cause of many delays on the District Line.

AEO bid to save Earls Court

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Doomed exhibition venue Earls Court and Olympia has received a boost to its campaign for survival, with news that the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) is throwing its weight behind the bid to save it.

Earls Court is under the axe of its owner, Capital and Counties (CapCo), which plans to bulldoze the exhibition centre and redevelop the 77-acre site with residential and commercial property. The AEO is promising to lobby “both national and local government, the London Mayor, relevant planning authorities and Earls Court owner CapCo” in its efforts to get the demolition plans ditched, or at least ensure that the new development includes an exhibition centre.

Said AEO Chief Executive, Austen Hawkins, “The plans to destroy London’s major West End exhibition centre will have disastrous consequences on not only the UK exhibition industry but also on the national and local economy.”

According to the AEO, Earls Court – directly and indirectly – accounts for some 12,500 jobs in London and attracts more than 2.5 million visitors.

High-profile shows move out of Earls Court and Olympia

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Two top exhibitions – BETT and Top Gear Live – are departing their traditional venues at Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O). The news was revealed in the most recent quarterly financial statement of EC&O owner, Capital and Counties (CapCo).

For several years now, Olympia has hosted Emap’s annual BETT education technology show, while Earls Court has been the venue for Brand Events’ Top Gear Live, which runs alongside the MPH Prestige and Performance Motor Show.

BETT, which attracts over 700 exhibitors, is scheduled to run at Olympia for the last time in January 2012, relocating to London’s Excel for 2013. Commented Emap Connect MD, Paul Dunne, “Although it’s with sadness that we announce our move from such a great venue, BETT has quite simply outgrown the space available.” Superior transport services post-Olympics and good accommodation options were also cited by Emap as part of the strategy behind the move.

CapCo dismissed the show losses as “reflecting the competitive nature of the market”. The company is now in the process of promoting its investment plan for the redevelopment of the 77-acre Earls Court site, including demolition of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. To coincide with this, the company has commenced a £20 million redevelopment programme to expand and improve Olympia. However, the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has announced plans to lobby Government in a bid to foil CapCo’s plans and retain the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

Confex on the move

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

International Confex – the UK’s leading event for event organisers – is moving venue. Organisers UBM Live have announced that this established and successful show will move from Earls Court, where the event is due to take place in just a few weeks’ time, to Excel London for its 2012 outing. The reason given by UBM Live for the move is that it will allow the show to expand in the future.

Said Confex Director, Alison Willis, “Moving to Excel will offer us more flexibility and opportunity to grow Confex in the next few years. We want to increase the hosted buyers scheme and reach more international visitors, which will be easier due to Excel’s close links to City Airport and plans for the Crossrail link. There are also a wide range of hotels on site and good facilities for our visitor base.” Jonny Sullens, Confex Group Portfolio Director, added, “We’ve made significant investment this year in a hosted buyer programme which will see more than 350 senior decision-makers brought into the event.”

Of course, 2012 is a big year for London and hosting the show at Excel during the same year as the 2012 Olympic Games was an important factor in the decision to shift. Ms Willis also said that, although there are currently no plans to use the International Convention Centre during the 2012 show, its presence on site provides flexibility to grow in the future. She added, “We have to make sure we remain the leading event for the event industry.”

Naturally, the big cheeses at Excel were delighted. Managing Director, David Pegler, commented that Excel’s own clients – such as the corporate and association markets – form a large share of the core audience targeted by the Confex team, and that the venue will use its own marketing to raise awareness of the exhibition.

Meanwhile, Earls Court and Olympia Group Managing Director, Nigel Nathan, put on a brave face: “We are very proud of the instrumental part we’ve played in the growth and success of International Confex and look forward to seeing how the show develops in its new location.” We bet they do!

UBM will, however, continue to hold a range of events at EC&O including Energy Solutions, Total Workplace Management, M&E – The Building Services Event, Technology for Marketing, Call Centre Expo and Internet World.

The final International Confex at Earls Court will take place next month from 1 to 3 March.