Tarsus Group Plc - Trading Update & launch of next phase of strategy

The Board anticipates that results for the year ended 31 December 2017 will be in line with its expectations. 

Recent trading and outlook

Since the issue of its Trading Update on 21 November 2017, the Group has held three of its larger events. Labelexpo Asia achieved very strong revenue and visitor growth. The Flower Show in Turkey and the World Anti-Aging Congress in Las Vegas both performed in line with expectations.

Prospects for organic growth in 2018 are positive. Forward bookings are encouraging and in line with its mission to drive scale and momentum, the Group intends to continue replicating its most successful brands worldwide over the coming year.

Overall, across the portfolio, bookings are tracking 10%+ ahead - in line with management expectations. While it is very early in the year, we are confident of another good performance in 2018.

Strategy update

Since 2013, the Tarsus strategy of "Quickening the Pace" has seen the Group significantly extend its reach into new geographies and industries. Over the past five years, average organic revenue growth has been 9% and average visitor growth 8% - well ahead of the marketplace. This growth has been reflected in strong returns to shareholders with dividends per share rising by an average of 8% per annum over that period.

2017 has seen the culmination of the "Quickening the pace" strategy, with excellent progress made across the board:

-     Visitor/buyer growth across the portfolio was up 7% on a like-for-like basis - well ahead of the Group's target of 5%. 

-     Strong growth was delivered once again in the Group's flagship events.

-     The number of replications launched during the year increased to 28.

-     The three major acquisitions made at the end of 2016 - Connect (US), Hometex and Intex (both China) were successfully integrated into the Group, with all three businesses delivering performances at least in line with their acquisition case.

-     The Group consolidated its position in the fast-growing Mexican marketplace, with its JV with E.J Krause acquiring a further 9 events.

Now Tarsus is set to build on this success with the next phase of its strategy: "Quickening the Pace - Driving Scale and Momentum" ("QTP 2"). Recent years have laid the foundations for further organic growth. The Group has established a strong position in its chosen transitional markets and built a portfolio of leading events. This new phase will focus on building the scale and momentum of the Group, driving the organic growth of our existing businesses, replicating Tarsus brands and acquiring new platforms for growth.

Buyer growth remains a key component of our strategy. Attracting the right buyers to deliver improved ROIs for customers will continue to be a priority and the Group is confident it can maintain its industry- leading performance in attracting high-quality buyers.

Douglas Emslie, Tarsus Group Managing Director, said:

"Our excellent performance in 2017 was the culmination of our Quickening the Pace strategy. Over the last five years we have expanded across the map, partnering with passionate entrepreneurs, building a strong portfolio and creating leading brands. This has resulted in strong returns for our shareholders.

"We have laid the foundations - the next phase of our strategy, "QTP 2 - Driving Scale and Momentum", will build on them. Through to 2021 we will deepen our presence in high-growth markets; focus relentlessly on improving the experiences of our exhibitors and their buyers; and look to maximise the scale of our existing events. Accordingly we will be continuing to invest to scale our replication program.

"Across the group as a whole, the outlook for 2018 is positive. Our forward bookings are encouraging, our portfolio is strong."

The Group expects to announce its final results for the year ended 31 December 2017 on 28 February 2018.

The Company will be hosting a presentation to analysts at 11.00am today at the offices of Deutsche Bank plc at 1 Great Winchester St., London EC2N 2DB covering the Group's performance in 2017 and an update on Group strategy.  No new material information will be made available.