2001: The dawn of 2001 sees the eagerly awaited opening of Excel in London's docklands. Its first four shows - Automotex, Electronic Information Displays, Artizana and Forecourts of the Future - all report good visitor figures. During a time of mixed fortunes, redundancies at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) spark rumours that its Birmingham International Motor Show might be outsourced. The Volkswagen Group, Peugeot, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have already pulled out of the show's 2002 outing.
In February, organiser ITE appoints Nigel Stapleton, former co-chairman of Reed Elsevier, as its new chief executive. He assumes the role from Lawrie Lewis. The move follows strong financial results for the year ending 30 September 2000.
In the world of contracting, Melville launches an event services division headed by Richard Pegler. It aims to offer a complete package of support services to live event production companies.
Ongoing speculation about the future of the Birmingham and London Motor Shows prompts the organiser to produce rejuvenated plans for the shows.
Clarion Events, which organises the London leg, appoints creative director Tim Pyne to breathe new life into the show, while the SMMT reviews both its marketing account and suppliers in preparation for the 2002 event.
In a flurry of senior personnel changes, Simon Kimble moves from Haymarket Exhibitions and is appointed managing director of organiser Clarion Events.
Andy Gibb, meanwhile, moves from Advanstar to the NEC's organising arm, Centre Exhibitions.
Mid-2001, Clarion Events pulls the plug on the forthcoming London Motor Show, citing lack of support. Show director Mark Saunders says: "We decided if it was not to be credible then it was best not to run the show. We'd rather have that than a poor show." On a similar note, the National Magazine Company suspends the Cosmopolitan Show and the Prima Baby Show while it reviews their viability.
Dutch exhibition firm VNU snaps up Imark Communications Europe in an £11.7m deal and global marketing communications group Cordiant buys PCI LiveDesign.
As the world reels from the events of 11 September, the event industry reflects on the personal and worldwide implications.
As the close of 2001 approaches, the former commercial director at fledgling venue Excel, Keith Greetham, leads a bid to buy the NEC and take it private.
However, the NEC's major shareholder, Birmingham City Council, denies it is up for sale.
At the end of October, Photobition UK directors stage a management buy-out. The firms have merged to form a private company, Service Graphics.
The move comes in the wake of news that parent company Photobition Group has gone into administrative receivership.
Another company to suffer the repercussions of an unsettled industry is design agency Firbank Kempster Integrated Communications Partnership, which is placed in managed receivership with debts of around £2.5m.
2002: Following the closure of its events and exhibitions arm nine months after its launch, publisher IPC enters talks with numerous major organisers about licensing its brands for future events.
In a continued period of industry consolidation, global communications group Cordiant merges HP:ICM and PCI LiveDesign. The new agency has 80 staff and combined billings of £40m.
As Event unveils its new look in February, we welcome the appointment of Jamie Buchan as chief executive of Excel. Buchan joins from Whitbread where he was director of marketing and strategy. He says: "Our strategy is to be the premier venue in the UK and provide a number of different services. We must look at our role beyond the UK."
Jack Morton Worldwide makes former HP:ICM managing director Julian Pullan its director of operations. The move sees him teamed with former colleague Lois Jacobs, who left HP:ICM in 1997.
UK contractors are up in arms as the organiser of textile machinery show ITMA 2003 proposes a system of recommendation for contractors wishing to secure work from overseas exhibitors. Centre Exhibitions defends its decision and suggests that it proposed an earlier commercial solution to BECA 18 months earlier. A month later, BECA reaches an agreement with Centre Exhibitions and supports the scheme.
Following his departure from Stoneleigh Park, Bill Ross resigns his role as chairman of the Exhibition Venues Association (EVA). The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre chairman, Mike Closier, succeeds him in the role.
Organiser Clarion Events confirms rumours that it plans a comeback for the London Motor Show in summer 2003.
In June 2002, 18 months after opening, Excel plans a refinancing venture.
Chief executive Buchan invites bondholders and shareholders to talks about how to cut debt levels in a bid to realise development plans.
National Boat Shows (NBS) takes Earls Court to arbitration when the venue mistakenly books the London Boat Show tenure a week earlier than agreed.
The hearing concludes that the Boat Show must go ahead on the incorrect dates, between 2-12 January 2003, because of an overlap with another exhibition whose contract pre-dates that of NBS. Earls Court chief executive Andrew Morris says: "We regret the inconvenience caused to National Boat Shows and we will be working with them to make sure the show is a success."
Also in June, owners Anschutz Entertainment Group and SMG sell London Arena to Irish property developer Ballymore in a deal thought to be worth £50m.
As Wembley (London) is bought by Quintain Estates and Developments, plans for the redevelopment of its conference centre are put on hold. The venue had announced plans for a 5,000-seat exhibition and conference space but initial plans are for the areas surrounding the stadium only.
Health and safety
In July, a court fines Earls Court & Olympia £70,000 for lapses in health and safety following the death of a lighting technician in 1999. Kevin O'Bryan died when he fell from the venue roof while working for employer The Spot Company.
The industry and wider world watch in awe of Jack Morton Worldwide's work on the opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. The project is received with great critical acclaim.
As autumn draws in, Excel launches an in-house division aimed at helping organisers launch shows at the venue. Rob Mackenzie, former managing director of News International Exhibitions and chief executive of Emap Exhibitions, heads it.
Karen Taylor is appointed managing director of Reed Exhibitions UK following the sudden death of Andrew Roberts.
As 2002 draws to a close, Excel agrees its refinancing deal in principle with majority shareholder Visionary Properties and most of its bondholders.
2003: The year begins with a number of high-profile appointments. Haymarket Exhibitions marketing director Sarah Horrell joins Excel as marketing and communications director and is replaced by Radio Times marketing chief Simon Clarkson; and in an internal shuffle, Mice Group appoints former director of strategy Paul Carter as managing director following the departure of Hugh Scrimgeour.
In February, news reaches us that Clarion Events is to launch an organising arm north of the border with the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Named Clarion Events Scotland, it is headed up by the firm's former group exhibitions director, Mark Saunders. He says: "We want to hold our events in different locations and learn more about running shows away from Earls Court & Olympia."
CMP Europe executive director Clive Ellings leaves to "pursue other interests" following the closure of the company's offices and the transfer of its portfolio of shows to within the CMPi Property Group. Later in the year he launches the Interactive Marketing Partnerships organising outfit with his former Miller Freeman colleague Graeme Howe.
In March, Seller Hospitality beats off stiff competition to buy the event management firm Elegant Days. The merger sees it become part of Arena Event Services, a division of the Evenser Group. Emap, which is also on the acquisition trail, buys French exhibition firm Agor for £21.2m.
By April the fate of the Foster's British Grand Prix and the Octagon Motorsports UK hangs in the balance as US parent Interpublic Group strives to quit its loss-making motorsports business.
A month later, former Emap divisional director Kevin Murphy crosses from organiser to venue when he is poached by Excel.
Following much unrest among trade bodies, the AEO launches the Association of Exhibition Contractors (AEC) - the first step towards a single trade association, threatening BECA's dominance of the contracting world.
Excel poaches Kirsty Adams, Haymarket Exhibitions' marketing and features manager, to be the second event director at in-house organiser London EventCo.
In the contractor sector, Andy Gibb is poached from NEC's in-house organiser to head up service supplier Opex. Rival firm Graham Parrish Exhibitions goes into administration and is later purchased by TGA Chapmans managing director Mike Hyams.
Exposure Communications' Simon Burton announces the launch of a UK version of the US's Exhibitor Show.
At the close of the summer, the future of Wembley Conference and Exhibition Centre is thrown into uncertainty when Wembley London's new owner, Quintain Estates and Developments, fails to include it in redevelopment plans.
Autumn is marked by senior-level staff changes. Excel's chief operating officer Peter Mooney leaves after a shake-up of its customer service programme.
Former IIR Exhibitions head Alison Jackson joins Emap's Trade Promotions Services (TPS) division as managing director.
Reed Exhibitions moves into the defence, ocean and oil sectors, acquiring Spearhead Exhibitions for an undisclosed sum.
And in the month that the NEC stages the mammoth International Textile and Machinery Association show, Haymarket Exhibitions branches into the business to business arena and the SECC unveils its £350m redevelopment scheme.
Event ends 2003 with controversy in the industry association field. Royal Horticultural Halls' managing director Rene Dee resigns as deputy chairman of EVA after a personnel dispute.