Hyve blazes digital monetisation strategy trail with acquisition of Retail Meetup

Global events business Hyve Group has acquired digital event business Retail Meetup for an initial consideration of £18.8m (US$25.2m). The deal includes an earn out capped at £9m based on the EBITDA of the two events scheduled for FY21, payable in Q4 FY21.

The acquisition will be funded through existing debt facilities and cash reserves.

The acquisition adds four high-quality virtual events with potential to scale and provides scope to launch new virtual Shoptalk and Groceryshop events globally across the ecommerce retail sector with nominal additional development cost required.

Retail Meetup enables attendees to network and trade at scale.

Proof of the concept of how the format can monetise a digital event came with Hyve’s Shoptalk Meetup, which took place in October 2020, delivering more than 18,000 meetups over 12 hours, among 2,100 participants, delivering revenue of £1.8m.

Four additional events are now planned for 2021 (two in FY21 and two in FY22).

Groceryshop Spring Meetup (9-11 March 2021) and Shoptalk Meetup for Women (11-13 May 2021) are scheduled to take place in FY21, while Shoptalk Europe Meetup (dates tbc) and Shoptalk Fall Meetup (19-21 October 2021), are scheduled for FY22. All are planned at times of the year to be complementary to the in-person event, giving Shoptalk and Groceryshop the opportunity to meet customer needs at multiple points through the year.

Retail Meetup predominantly generates revenue through paid ticket sales and fees for certain types of meetings, with the potential to sell sponsorship. Hyve says the system has been validated by early sales on 2021 Meetups.

The company says that while Covid-19 has demonstrated that in-person events remain a critical forum to learn, network and trade, customers now want more touchpoints across the year in a more diverse range of formats.

An omnichannel strategy is therefore part of the group’s strategy to meet this evolving customer need.

Retail Meetup becomes Hyve’s flagship digital format, showing that digital online events can cater to the customer need to network and trade, whereas previous webinars and other virtual versions of in-person events have largely been limited to learning and brand marketing.

The acquisition includes a perpetual licence to use the Meetup technology already developed to serve the Shoptalk and Groceryshop portfolio.

Retail Meetup is acquired from its founders, Anil D. Aggarwal and Simran Rekhi Aggarwal, who will continue to work with Hyve until June 2021.

Mark Shashoua (pictured), CEO of Hyve Group plc said of the acquisition: “We service three fundamental customer needs, bringing people together to learn, network and trade. Where in-person events provide an opportunity to accomplish all three of these objectives, up until now, digital events have broadly catered only to the ‘learn’ component focussing on online content. Retail Meetup turns this reality on its head, creating a first of its kind commercial proposition to bring the entire retail and grocery ecosystem together to network and trade at scale in a digital format. Digital hosted meetings have the proven potential to bring together thousands of decision makers over a short period of time in a format that delivers strong returns on both time and investment.

“Retail Meetup is a hugely exciting venture for Hyve, this will become the cornerstone of our omnichannel strategy and a blueprint for future growth. Covid-19 has accelerated the evolution of customer behaviour and expectations. We believe that the future of servicing customer needs is omnichannel, with in-person and digital events driving engagement across the year. Retail Meetup positions us at the forefront of our industry, exiting 2020 with a compelling customer proposition and vision for the future. With four digital events already planned, this acquisition will be immediately earnings enhancing, with minimal further investment required to deliver strong revenue and profitability through a new and expanding channel.”