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Virtual shows are no substitute for face-to-face events warns organiser of Outdoor Retailer


Emerald Holding, the US show producer that includes Outdoor Retailer among its many assets, has reported a collapse in revenues for its third financial quarter.

Revenues of $8.5m for the quarter ended September 30th compare to $75.6m for the same quarter last year, a drop of almost 89%. The fall primarily reflects a $68m reduction from the cancellation of substantially all third-quarter events due to COVID-19.

Although Emerald hosted more than 90 digitally-delivered virtual events during the quarter, interim President and CEO Brian Field made it clear they were no substitute for conventional live shows. “While these [virtual shows] have been successful and provide new, high-margin revenue streams, the consistent feedback from our customers is that the face-to-face format provides a critical value to their success.

“A good example of our customers’ pent-up demand to return to face-to-face shows can be seen in IGES (International Gift Expo in the Smokies) set for November 4th. Attendee registrations are up over 36% versus last year, which confirms our own research that continues to point to customers’ preference for live events.”

The company made a net loss of $15.3m for the quarter compared to a net loss of $19.7m last year, with $16.1m of other income being secured from insurance claims related to cancelled events in the first three quarters. Adjusted EBITDA for quarter three was a negative $3.2m compared to $28.7m in 2019, the swing of $31.9m mainly due to COVID-related cancellations of 29 third quarter events.

David Doft, Emerald’s Chief Financial Officer, added: “The key priorities are to streamline our operations in order to improve collaboration across the company and find opportunities to consolidate our expense structure and become more nimble as the environment eventually normalises.

“Historically, Emerald has worked as a collection of business units focused on delivering individual shows. This stifled innovation as well as the ability to cross-sell the full suite of Emerald’s offerings to our customers, while also adding to our expense structure, which we have been laser-focused on optimising.”

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