From the challenge of recovery to a new rise
Our first year 2022 as a public limited company was exceptional at Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd, one could even say historic.
The first tertile was still marked by pandemic restrictions, and our business was at a standstill until the end of March. When event restrictions in the Helsinki metropolitan area were lifted in March and the recovery got underway, an unprecedentedly dense programme with events carried over from the pandemic era had to be implemented.
The business restart was carried out in an uncertain operating environment. The effects of the changed security situation in Europe, the energy crisis, recession and high inflation on the Finnish economy were extensive. In our own business, the challenge factor was increased by the long interruption of events, the rescheduling of events to new dates and the personnel changes that inevitably followed the extraordinary period.
We carefully planned the restart phase with our staff and partners. Contact with our customers that had continued throughout the pandemic intensified even more, we told them about the return of events, we explored the needs of different sectors and we started work to restore the number of visitors at events. At the same time, we took care of the staff’s ability to cope during the demanding restart phase and started work with renewing the Messukeskus brand.
Responsibility work continued in all three areas: bearing responsibility for the environment, economy and people. As the first event organiser in Finland, Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre received a GOLD Excellent-level SHORE safety certificate, which verifies our thorough work in risk management and building a responsible business.
In the midst of challenges, we have been carried by a strong confidence that our business is based on a sustainable mission. We work for the benefit of Finnish business life, and for that we have excellent prerequisites, know-how and experience. The results of the extensive fair visitor survey commissioned by The Association of Trade Fair and Event Organisers in Finland at the end of 2022 are encouraging and show that people long for fairs and live events. The majority of the respondents think that they will visit fairs as often in the future as they did before the COVID-19 epidemic.
Most of the respondents’ expectations and attitudes towards trade fairs had remained unchanged – only about 15% of the respondents recognized changes in their attitudes due to COVID-19. Some of the survey respondents pondered about health safety of large events; some on the other hand had missed fairs during the pandemic break.
Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre is Finland’s largest event centre, hosting Finland’s most inspiring events and exciting encounters.
We create successful and lasting interactions with undisputable results. There is no other media, where one can establish a similar personal relationship with a customer.
Anni Vepsäläinen | CEO
Report of the Board of Directors 2022
The Finnish Fair Corporation started the year 2022 with a new corporate form. During 2021, the corporate form was changed from a cooperative to a public limited corporation. In the first tertile of 2022, The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd’s business was largely at a standstill due to pandemic restrictions. Event restrictions were lifted in the Helsinki metropolitan area on March 15, 2022, and our business started quickly after a quiet period that had lasted more than two years. The late spring and autumn programme was unprecedentedly tight when events once again could be organised.
The revival of the trade fair and event industry started in an unstable general situation, as the effects of the changed security situation in Europe, the energy crisis, recession and high inflation on the Finnish economy were significant.
The restart phase was carefully planned with customers, staff and partners. Contact with customers, that continued throughout the pandemic, became even more intense. At the same time, we took care of the staff’s ability to cope, and work on renewing the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre brand began.
The restart of the business commenced well. The Finnish Fair Corporation Group organised a total of 25 trade fair events in 2022, which were visited by 314,648 visitors. The number of exhibitors was 4,612 and the exhibition space sold was 192,722 m2. In addition to its own events, 27 guest events, 476 meetings, congresses and parties and one entertainment event were organised at Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre.
The impact of the pandemic on business
The combined effects of the pandemic period on The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd’s business were significant. In turnover, the total losses during the pandemic years 2020-2022 were more than €100 M and the operating loss was almost €20 M. The average number of employees decreased to 143 persons over the course of two years (2022), while the number of employees was 202 in 2020. A total of €5M in financial support due to COVID-19 was received during the entire pandemic period, of which €1,7 M was received in 2022. In total, financial support due to COVID-19 received was 5% of the lost turnover.
The event restrictions at the beginning of 2022 required that adjustment measures continued during the first tertile. The most significant savings were made in event organization, marketing and personnel costs.
Strict cash management continued successfully throughout the year. Money and bank receivables were + €12.6 M at the end of 2022.
Development of event safety
In October, Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre received the international SHORE certificate for high-quality safety and risk management. The certificate is issued by the international risk assessment expert SAFE Asset Group.
Special measures related to COVID-19 safety were reduced starting in April, however, strictly in accordance with authority instructions. Internal and external communication related to the topic continued throughout the year, and it was done on a multi-channel basis, taking into account all customers and stakeholders.
Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre continued its goal-oriented responsibility work in all three areas: bearing responsibility for people, the environment and the economy.
The staff’s work situation stabilized after the event business restarted. The Centre was able to waive the layoffs that were implemented during the pandemic period and moved on to ensure the personnel’s successful return to work and their ability to cope in the restart phase.
The collaboration with UNICEF Finland and Live Vocational College, which was interrupted during the pandemic, was restarted. In addition, Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre supported the Ukraine fundraisings of UNICEF Finland and the Finnish Red Cross by offering visibility in its events and advertising spaces.
For the third year in a row, Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre published a sustainability report in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030). The environmental work continued, with the goal of being 110% carbon neutral in 2029. Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre also renewed its Sustainable Travel Finland label and joined Glasgow’s Climate Declaration.
Investing in an open communication culture and building trust continued throughout the year. The number of employed personnel at the end of the year was 157. The recruitments related to the restart of the business were successful and there have also been returnees.
The Finnish Fair Corporation’s reputation as an employer has remained attractive despite of the difficult pandemic years. The event autumn in 2022 was record-breaking busy due to, among other things, events that were rescheduled as well as a strong customer demand. The Finnish Fair Corporation uses an organizational model suitable for the rapid changes in resources required by the project management business, where in addition to permanent employment personnel, expert and resource pools built for different functions are used at peak times.
Regular measurement of personnel satisfaction continued, and it remained high. The overall satisfaction of The Finnish Fair Corporation Group’s personnel was 3.89 (on a scale of 1-5) and the personnel recommendation index (eNPS) was 36.4.
The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd is owned by 196 shareholders, among whom are numerous companies, the City of Helsinki and the Finnish Fair Foundation. The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd’s largest shareholder continues to be the long-term strong background entity The Finnish Fair Foundation, which owns 89% and thus exercises control over the management of the Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd. The number of shares is 44,278 and there is only one class of shares. If the company’s shares are transferred to a new outside owner, the company’s Board of Directors must be notified of the transfer without delay. The company has a primary right and the shareholders have a secondary right to redeem the shares transferred to the new shareholder under the conditions specified in the statutes of the company.
Turnover and result
The Finnish Fair Corporation Group consisted in 2022 of The Finnish Fair Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiaries Expomark Oy and Suomen Videoviestintä SVV Oy.
The Group’s turnover in 2022 was 46 million EUR (14.7 million EUR in 2021), the change compared to last year was +212 %.
Among the subsidiaries, Expomark Oy’s turnover increased to a 3.3 million EUR level, and the company also made the best business profit in history, 1.0 M€. The turnover of Suomen Videoviestintä SVV Oy increased to 5.3 million EUR, and the business profit was 1.3 M€.
The Group’s operating expenses were 43.1 (27.6) million EUR, of which the amount of depreciation according to plan was EUR 8.4 (9.6) million.
The Group’s business profit was 4.7 (-10.4) million EUR. Operating result relative to turnover was +10.2% (-70.7%)
The Group’s profit before closing entries and taxes was 4.6 (-10.5) million EUR. The Group’s profit for the financial year was 5.0 (-10.1) million EUR
Cash flow from business was +13.6 (+3.3) million EUR. Cash flow from investments was -1.1 (-0.2) million EUR.
Interest-bearing liabilities at the end of the financial year were 3.6 million EUR (5.0). The balance sheet total was 94.3 (92.2) million EUR. Equity ratio according to the financial statement was 86.8 (87.5) %. The gearing ratio is 4.63%.
The Group’s taxes were 0.4 (0.3) million EUR.
The Group’s investments totalled 1.1 (0.2) million EUR i.e. 2.4% (1.2%) of turnover. 0.1 million EUR was placed in replacement and maintenance investments, 0.4 million EUR in information technology and digital investments and 0.6 million EUR in rental equipment investments.
Outlook for 2023
The fair and event year will become the first whole post-pandemic year without COVID-19 restrictions. Implementation of the digital strategy continues with the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre 365 model, by growth in digital media business. The weakening of the economic situation and high inflation weaken the growth opportunities, but the full implementation of the programme throughout the year can enable turnover to reach the level of up to 50 million EUR.
We will continue investments in order to secure the future, both in terms of personnel and other resources, but taking into account the current volume of business.
Significant events after the end of the financial year
The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd opened an invitation to tender for the operation of Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre restaurant services during the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. NoHo Partners Plc won the competition, and a long-term cooperation agreement was signed with them in February 2023. The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd has after the fiscal year received a subpoena regarding the termination of a lease agreement. The termination was made in 2023, and the company has not made reservations for expenses in the financial statements.
Risks and uncertainties
Increased interest rates and inflation reduce the disposable income of visiting customers and may negatively affect the number of visiting customers. On the other hand, the economy’s tendency towards a short-term recession may also reduce the exhibitor’s investment in fairs and events. However, the event portfolio is moderately strong and can withstand short-term changes, but at the same time requires continuous development so that the events maintain their position in the media market.
Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre’s security expertise includes e.g. comprehensive security systems, trained personnel, good property maintenance, continuous monitoring, preparedness for cyber security risks, continuous security planning and close cooperation with authorities. Personnel and property risks are combated with systematic risk management. The financial effects of risks are protected with property and interruption insurance.
The Group employed an average of 143 (154) full-time employees during the accounting period. Salaries and bonuses totalled 10.5 (7.1) million EUR.
Group business development 2019-2022
|Turnover, 1000 EUR||46 038||14 744||20 152||59 336|
|Change in turnover, %||212,2||-26,9||-66,0||5,2|
|Operating result 1000 EUR||4 650||-10 392||-13 496||2 616|
|% of turnover||10,10||-70,50||-67,0||4,4|
|Return on equity, %||6,6||-13,0||-14,7||2,3|
|Equity ratio, %||86,8||87,5||87,8||85,2|
|Personnel on average during financial year||143||154||202||205|
|Salary amount for the financial year, 1000 EUR||10 545||7 057||8 936||14 447|
The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd’s business development 2019 – 2022
|Turnover, 1000 EUR||40 714||13 953||19 605||55 405|
|Change in turnover, %||191,8||-28,8||-64,6||9,1|
|Operating result 1000 EUR||2 381||-9 240||-11 874||893|
|% of turnover||5,85||-66,2||-60,6||1,6|
|Return on equity, %||3,0||-11,7||-13,1||-1,1|
|Equity ratio, %||85,3||86,6||85,7||85,1|
|Personnel on average during financial year||112||124||172||172|
|Salary amount for the financial year, 1000 EUR||8 683||6 054||7 747||12 431|
The calculation formulas for return on equity and the equity ratio have been changed in the accounting period, and key figures from previous accounting periods have been adjusted in accordance with the new calculation formulas.
The Board of Directors consists of 5 members. Board members 31 December 2022 are:
Matti Kähkönen | Chairman of the Board
Leena Niemistö | Board professional, MD
Karri Kaitue I Board professional
Sam Nieminen | CEO
Anu Nissinen I CEO
Members of the Board of Directors of The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd received an attendance allowance of EUR 2,000 per meeting in 2022. In addition to attendance allowances, a monthly remuneration of EUR 2,000 was paid to the Chairman.
Anni Vepsäläinen, CEO
Mikko Horppu, Director | Exhibitions business unit
Kristina von Konow, Director | Events, Meetings and Conferences business unit
Lumia Ankkuri, Director Marketing and Communications (as of 15 June 2022)
Petteri Nissinen, CFO
Mika Vakkilainen, Property and Production Director
Proposal of the Board of Directors for distribution of the profit and free equity of The Finnish Fair Corporation Ltd
The Board of Directors proposes that no dividend be distributed and that the result of the financial year of 4 667 620. 56 EUR be transferred to the profits of the previous financial years.