Buoyant Blenheim in 32% advance

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The Independent Online
BLENHEIM GROUP'S success in persuading recession-hit companies to rent exhibition stands despite reduced marketing budgets has helped to boost profits to pounds 37.3m, a leap of 32 per cent.

Blenheim's second interim figures, for the 12 months to 31 August, revealed turnover up by 25 per cent to pounds 153.3m as visitor numbers grew by 6.2 per cent. The company has switched to a calendar year-end.

'There is no wastage for the exhibitor at our shows,' Phil Soar, chief executive of the international exhibitions group and trade publisher, said.

'We attract a well-defined target group of visitors. You don't go to a security show in Birmingham unless you're really interested. The cost per quality visitor is low.'

While exhibitions in Germany attracted 25 per cent of the average media spend, he said the UK figure was nearer 9.3 per cent, adding: 'There is a lot more growth there.'

The number of square metres of exhibition space sold over the period rose by 12.1 per cent and average revenue per square metre went up by 9.2 per cent to pounds 117.40.

Interest cover on Blenheim's pounds 39.6m of borrowings is covered 7.2 times, the company says.

Neville Buch, chairman, said that France, where Blenheim holds the vast biennial Batimat construction show, had been the real engine of growth, contributing 53 per cent of profits.

Guy Lamming, at James Capel, described the results as impressive but warned that Blenheim might suffer if European economies faltered over the next two years. He said UK margins already appeared to be under pressure.

'The question could be whether or not good management and the ability to get people to the shows can beat deteriorating economic environments,' he added. 'But they have done well so far.'

Shares in the group rose 13p to 533p.

The dividend, at 9p, is up by 15 per cent with earnings rising by the same amount to 27.8p.