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New motorsport business conference on the way?

NEWS STORY
16/06/2011

Word has reached Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt that talks are underway about launching a new motorsport business conference later this year. It is understood that a major global player in the conference industry will be hosting the event if it gets the green light and the timing makes sense.

Interest in F1 is accelerating due to the new rules making races more entertaining. In turn this interest filters down to other types of motorsport but that doesn't mean to say that a new event would have an easy ride.

The motorsport business conference marketplace is pretty congested with numerous events fighting for attention. The Professional MotorSport World magazine hosts an annual Expo in Cologne every November and rival magazine Race Tech holds a World Motorsport Symposium in Oxford every year. This event kicks off International Motorsport Business Week in January and is particularly well attended with speeches this year from some of F1's most senior business managers. They included McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh and the FIA's director of powertrain and electronics Gilles Simon.

Across the pond there is the Performance Racing Industry show which takes place in December and attracts 1,100 exhibiting companies to Orlando's cavernous Orange County Convention Centre.

In recent years F1's conference landscape has been dominated by the Motor Sport Business Forum which was held at least once a year. It was founded by expert conference organiser Simon Berger who steered it to becoming a powerhouse of an event which attracted speeches from F1's top management talent including Ron Dennis and Gerard Lopez.

In November last year media company Haymarket added the Motor Sport Business Forum to its exhibitions portfolio which stages more than a dozen events every year ranging from the Autosport International show and the Performance Car Show to the Clothes Show.

A Motor Sport Business Forum was planned to be held on 5 to 6 April this year in Kuala Lumpur. However, it never took place and it has been well over a year since the previous event took place.

It is hard to get a precise feel for the costs and profits of these kind of events. The most recent accounts of Haymarket Exhibitions limited are to 31 December 2009 and they show total revenue from its events of 13.5m, a 5.7% increase on the previous year. However, this was outweighed by a 15.2% increase in costs to 14.2m. It left the company with a 468,000 after-tax loss, down from a 1.1m net profit the previous year.

Despite this poor performance, the remuneration received by its highest paid director more than doubled to 919,000 which, to put it into context, was just 8,000 less than the amount earned in the same year by the highest paid director of Red Bull Racing - believed to be team principal Christian Horner. Others in Haymarket Exhibitions weren't so lucky. Although six staff were added to the company, giving it a total of 60, their combined pay fell 18.3% to 2.8m meaning that the average salary fell 17,000 to 47,000.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for the company since, according to Haymarket, there was a marked year on year improvement in stand sales at the 2011 Autosport International show and trade attendance was also up. If the revenue increases again maybe this time all the staff will benefit from it.

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