Collapse in US technology advertising hits Hollick's United Business Media

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The Independent Online

The collapse in the advertising and businesses conferences markets, in the face of an economic downturn and the impact of 11 September, was demonstrated yesterday in figures from United Business Media and Informa Group.

Lord Hollick's United revealed that the volume of advertising pages sold in its CMP Media division – which produces US technology publications – was down 43.8 per cent in September. However, it said this was better than the market as a whole, which was 48.1 per cent lower.

The woes of the technology industry have seen United's CMP Media business hit by advertising falls since February and so far this year, revenues from advertising have recorded a 21.8 per cent decline. Technology advertising typically makes up nearly a fifth of group revenues.

Informa Group, which hosts conferences and produces business-to-business publications, said the US terrorist attacks had knocked its conference business.

The company said attendance at its telecoms event, held in Barcelona last month, attracted just 600 delegates. Net profit from the annual conference was 50 per cent down on 2000, when some 2,500 delegates attended. "This lower attendance, which was undoubtedly affected by concerns over air travel, reflects a trend which we have seen across a wider range of our international events since the terrorist attacks," the company said.

Informa said there was also a reluctance to travel internally in the US, which has affected attendance at the life sciences events it runs there.

Well over half of group revenues come from conferences. Overall delegate attendance in September was 20 per cent below expectations and October was 15 per cent down, slicing £2m off group profits.

The company, which has already cut 10 per cent of its 3,000-strong workforce so far this year, said more headcount reductions would now follow, without specifying numbers.

A profits warning from Informa in September had seen analysts' full-year forecasts for 2001 cut from £40m to £35m. Yesterday the figure was brought down to some £30m and no earnings growth is now being assumed for 2002.