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Covid-19: owner of major UK convention centre to slash 450 jobs

The owner of one of the UK’s largest convention centres has detailed plans to make 450 redundancies after reporting ‘almost zero revenues’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NEC Group, which owns the ICC Birmingham and four other venues including the National Exhibition Centre, is planning to cut its workforce by 55 per cent, after annual sales of £160m plunged.

The company said it had not been able to host any large events since March.

Group CEO, Paul Thandi, said: “It has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but if we have any chance of surviving the current market conditions, and returning to being a major economic contributor, post-pandemic, we must reduce our cost base significantly.

“The retraction of the 1 October date, which would have permitted us to hold trade exhibitions and conferences with over 30 visitors, was a major blow. Like all major venues, the Group has implemented stringent safety measures to ensure its venues can safely host business events and conferences, and welcome back the staff who have been on furlough since April.

“For companies like us, with minimal levels of activity, we are unable to make use of the Government’s recently announced Job Support Scheme. This, together with this sector’s inability to access the £1.57bn culture support package, has added to what has become an unsustainable position.

“Live events are integral to long-term economic recovery. We ask that the government work with strategic economic assets like us, to ensure that a balanced and fast-moving economy remains to face the challenges beyond 2020.”

NEC Group, which is owned by Blackstone private equity funds, said it provided work for 2,300 people and helped support 40,000 jobs in the region, boosting the local economy by £3bn.

The NEC has provided the NHS with room for the Birmingham Nightingale Hospital free of charge and its staff worked closely with the government to build it.