Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) owner Capital and Counties claims exhibition business was resilient last year despite uncertainty around the Earls Court Exhibition centre but warns future performance may be affected by progress on the site masterplan.
In its latest financial report, CapCo reported EC&O’s annual revenue hit £57.7m in the year to 31 December 2011, with pre-tax earnings dropping two per cent year-on-year to £18.5m. Business highlights included 37 new exhibitions such as Landscape, the London Pet Show and Ideal Home Show at Christmas, the largest launch at Earls Court in 20 years with 80,000 visitors.
In addition, Top Drawer, Ideal Home Show and the Speciality and Fine Food Fair reported strong attendance and helped contribute to the venue’s strong performance in 2011, the company said.
CapCo said its £20m redevelopment of Olympia’s West Hall improved both the site’s value and its usage. The property investment firm also played down the impact of losing the weekday Kensington (Olympia) District Line tube service in December.
“The exhibition business performed in line with expectations in 2011. The development of Olympia’s West Hall, already open for business, has increased the venue’s ability to host simultaneous shows,” CapCo chairman Ian Durant said in his report. The results reflect a strong year across the rest of CapCo’s portfolio, which includes Covent Garden and a joint venture across the Great Portland Estates.
CapCo’s immediate priorities are to secure planning consents across the wider Earls Court masterplan area and to conclude the commercial transactions with London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) and Transport for London (TfL).
An important milestone was reached on 17 February, when CapCo secured planning approval for the first step in its two-part plan to redevelop the 77-acre Earls Court site. The Seagrave Road car park site will be transformed into a residential quarter with 808 new homes, several of which are earmarked for the relocation of residents from the Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates in the event that CapCo’s masterplan is approved.
In December, CapCo struck a 50:50 conditional joint venture for the Seagrave Road site with Kwok Family Interests worth £131m.
The larger masterplan, which was submitted for approval last June, was rejected by the Greater London Authority in December for failing to meet 44 policies under the London Plan, but has since been revised and is now awaiting approval from LHFC and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Progress on the masterplan application and improvements to Olympia helped increase the value of CapCo’s Earls Court site interests from £138m to £195m during 2011, and the market value from £378m to £471, CapCo stated.
While it waits for confirmation on the masterplan, EC&O will continue working to attract new shows, integrate the West Hall to maximise Olympia’s potential, and focus on its London 2012 contribution as Earls Court hosts the Olympic volleyball competition.
“In the short term, we expect performance across the venues to continue to be impacted due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Earls Court venue,” CapCo added. “However, the group’s investment in Olympia including a further £10m in 2012 provides opportunities to develop the venues business over the medium term.”
Check out EN’s profile of the new-look West Hall and the next stage of Olympia’s redevelopment plans at the venue in our March edition, available tomorrow.
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