Haymarket Exhibitions founder Peter Osborne dies

Haymarket Media Group today (10 January) paid tribute to Peter Osborne, the founder of Haymarket Exhibitions and former Association of Event Organisers (AEO) chairman.

Peter Osborne created Haymarket Exhibitions in 1990
Peter Osborne created Haymarket Exhibitions in 1990

Osborne died at the end of December 2015 aged 71.

He retired from Haymarket Media Group in 2007, after 38 years with the company. He formed its exhibitions division in 1990, and was voted in as chairman of the AEO in 2000.

Osborne originally joined Haymarket in 1969 and worked in sales before leaving to buy a pub and build a restaurant in East Sussex.

He returned to the company to head up its business and medical groups in 1982, before being handed what he called a "new challenge" in the form of BBC Worldwide’s Clothes Show Live in 1989. He recalled to Campaign back in 2007: "We had no experience, so it was easy to promise the earth to the BBC, and we won the licence.

"We switched to the NEC [from Olympia] and created superb show attractions. Then, disaster. In freak weather it was snow-bound on the second day. I volunteered with Gavin Brown to sleep in the hall.

"Exhibitors agreed to run the stands the next day. We had a TV programme to make, and we made it. We earned mega stripes from the BBC for staying open, when other shows abandoned."

Haymarket Exhibitions' portfolio now includes Autosport International, Classic & Sports Car: The London Show, Fruit Focus and arable farming industry event Cereals, as well as Clothes Show Live's new incarnation, The Clothes Show.

Tributes paid

Rupert Heseltine, executive chairman at Haymarket, said: "Peter was the most extraordinary character. He was a unique individual and changed the face of exhibitions forever. He started Haymarket Exhibitions with a telephone and directory and went on to create some of the best known events in the business; he always wanted to make events and exhibitions fun and interactive.

"Live action will always be one of his greatest legacies. He was my first real boss at Haymarket and I look back at him with the fondest of memories, and to this day when thinking about our exhibitions, I always ask myself: 'What would Peter do?'"

Chris Skeith, chief executive of the AEO, added: "Peter was a longstanding supporter of AEO, a board member, and was awarded the highly coveted AEO Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award in 2005. He was a real character of the industry who led from the front with passion, enthusiasm and drive.

"The event industry has lost a very special leader and ambassador, and our thoughts are with his family and friends."

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