SSE Hydro owner upbeat despite drop in annual profits

The Glasgow-based venue business that owns the Armadillo and SSE Hydro has booked softer annual profits amid a sharp drop in conference revenues.

But the Scottish Event Campus said it still enjoyed a 'very positive year'. Picture: John Devlin
But the Scottish Event Campus said it still enjoyed a 'very positive year'. Picture: John Devlin

Scottish Event Campus, formerly the SECC, described 2016/17 as a “very positive year” as it pointed to the knock-on economic impact on the local economy.

Full-year results yesterday showed that underlying earnings (Ebitda) had slipped to £3.4 million from a restated £4.3m in the previous 12-month period. Overall turnover came in at £28.8m, down on £29.4m previously.

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Conference turnover fell by 21 per cent but bosses stressed that the previous financial year was a record period for the sector. The reduced level of turnover was said to be “in line with the cyclical nature of some national and international conferences”.

A similar cycle will be seen through the current financial year, the company added, followed by stronger years in 2018/19 and 2019/20. The highest ever level of future conference business was secured during the period however.

The group also reported a record year for the exhibition sector with 15 per cent revenue growth, five new shows added and “high retention levels” for established events.

Last August, the venue hosted a major new motoring festival, Ignition, which is set to run again this year.

A change to the timing of recognition of ticketing income resulted in a “transitional reduction” during the period under review, leading to a lower operating profit for the year of £1.1m. Underlying business profitability was reported to be in line with the previous year despite the reduction in conference business.

Peter Duthie, chief executive of Scottish Event Campus, said: “The Scottish Event Campus better describes the site, is more representative of what we do and reflects a vision for the future.

“2016/17 has been a very positive year for the Scottish Event Campus. This success is measured not only in financial terms but also by the economic impact of the campus which generated £414m net additional expenditure in the Glasgow area, equating to over £1m per day.”

He added: “Our trading profits will continue to be reinvested to ensure the existing facilities meet the needs of our customers and visitors in an increasingly competitive market.

“Looking ahead, and to capitalise on the success that Glasgow and Scotland has had in the events industry over recent years, a feasibility study was prepared to establish viable options for upgrading and expanding the campus, principally to facilitate further growth in the conference and exhibition sectors.

“These ambitious plans are supported by a robust business plan and an economic impact study and the focus now will be to secure funding support for a project which would be of significant benefit to the Glasgow and Scottish economies in terms of spend on hotels, restaurants, retail, and the related employment.”

During the year, the SSE Hydro hosted its first televised world championship boxing event and further televised broadcasts of Andy Murray Live, the venue’s first tennis event, and worldwide broadcast of WWE Wrestling – billed as a first for Scotland.