Informa reports trading improvement in November statement

Key highlights of international information services, exhibitions and events group Informa’s November trading statement for 2021-22 include continued improvement in trading, revenues of £1,800m (US$2,402,) and adjusted operating profit of £375m.

The Group has reported more than 250 face-to-face/smart events held in the year to date, with trends in participation, performance and re-bookings “steadily improving as the year progresses”.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Informa said it had prioritised operating cash flow, cash conversion and cash conservation as key operating measures for each business.

In 2020, the worst year of Covid, the Group said it set an ambitious target to be cash flow positive on a monthly basis from January 2021. “We achieved this and are tracking well ahead, with £325m+ free cash flow now expected in 2021 (excluding divestment proceeds),” the Group reported.

The Group also reported new Board appointments, including Zheng Yin (executive vice- president China, Schneider Electric) being appointed non-executive director and Mary McDowell as senior independent director.

Stephen A. Carter (pictured), group chief executive, Informa PLC, said: “We will complete the 2021 Transition Year in a stronger place than we anticipated at the start of the year and are now single-mindedly focused on growth and acceleration through to 2024."

He added: “The commitment of our colleagues, the consistent engagement with customers, constructive support of shareholders, tight cash management and the underlying quality of our portfolio have served us extremely well over the past 22 challenging months, enabling us to embark on our 2021-2024 GAP II programme from a position of strength.”

In terms of events, Informa Markets has operated more than 250 face-to- face/smart events in the 2021 Transition Year, including in all three major regions of North America, Mainland China and the Middle East. The company has also restarted events in Europe, where it says momentum is building ahead of some of the larger shows in the region.

“In North America and EMEA, as the year has progressed, travel friction eased and confidence amongst participants improved,” the trading report noted, “we have seen a steady increase in participation and performance levels across the portfolio. We have already seen some events match or exceed 2019 levels and the average is north of 50%, with individual brand performance dependent on geographic location, end market sensitivities, on-cycle/off-cycle scheduling, shortened sales cycles and the level of customer bookings carried over from previous years. However, the trend is clear and consistent, with demand for the product strong, customer feedback positive and improving rebooking momentum into 2022.”

Digital Services are a growing part of the product mix for all three of Informa’s B2B Markets businesses, “providing the opportunity to expand our addressable audiences, move closer to our customers and markets, and open up new opportunities for growth,” the Group said.

There is to be further development of the range of Smart Events products and services, as well as continued expansion in Informa’s Audience Development (including Specialist Content, Buyer Services and Specialist Content Marketing), where the Group identifies growing expertise and revenues in certain end markets, mainly in North America.