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Vision to Value: Bringing the music hall into the 21st century

From pop star Ed Sheeran to darts tournaments and dog-lovers’ favourite Crufts, the NEC Group’s range of venues across the UK offer something for everyone.

The business welcomes almost seven million people each year across all of its sites, and a new deal with entertainment giant Merlin, which will see a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre open at the Barclaycard Arena in 2018 and another Merlin attraction at the NEC, will significantly increase the total number of visitors to the NEC Group’s two Birmingham venue locations.

It’s a major step forward as the Group evolves its leisure and entertainment strategy, creating popular destinations that connect audiences with great content.

In 2015, LDC backed the management buyout of the venue management company, from Birmingham City Council in a deal which valued the business at more than £300m.

“LDC’s investment allowed us to realise our business plan and in effect provided the freedom we needed as a privately held business to move quickly, invest in our staff, products and services, customer reach and offer,” says chief executive Paul Thandi, who has increased revenues and profit steadily since the deal. “It has brought a real singularity of purpose.”

One of the great plays for the NEC is now in data, Thandi reveals. “We know who our visitors are, where they come from and what they want,” he says.

The result: many areas of the company have seen as much as a 30 per cent uplift in customer spend.

“LDC is an active investor that is always interested in ways we can develop the business, customer offer and staff, no matter how big or small,” adds Thandi. “We’ve got a renewed energy which in itself has led to double digit efficiency gains.”

Backing Business Ambition 2017