The results of Fira de Barcelona show that it is a powerful economic force for the region. There is consensus among administrations with regard to its role, and that the institution’s future growth and leadership depends on obtaining more space and a favourable environment. These were the ideas expressed in the official presentation of the results of 2019 prior to the General Meeting of the organization, held on 5 December.
Fira continues to break records for revenue and expects to end 2019 with a turnover of 215 million euros and an Ebitda of over 25 million, far higher than the initial forecast. It is 15% higher than 2017, a year which is comparable in terms of its calendar of fairs and even higher than 2018 when it first broke the ceiling of 200 million euros in revenue.
The keys to its success in 2019 is to be found in the contribution of events organized by other operators, the positive growth of in-house fairs and activities in other countries. Besides reporting another record-breaking year, Fira has also confirmed its leadership in fairs and its contribution to the regional economy.
There were many important events this year, but also complex social and political issues. The president of Fira’s Board of Administrators, Pau Relat, emphasised that business was normal, and pointed out that “trade fairs, like all business, need institutions to act with consistency, stability and serenity, in a climate of dialogue and respect”.
A summary of 2019 would be:
- Over 150 salons, congresses, company and corporate events and cultural activities held at the Montjuïc and Gran Via venues, along with another ten held in different countries where fairs were also organized (Cuba, Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Qatar and the United States).
World Congress on Lung Cancer
- Nearly 1,100 activities in connection with the fairs.
- Important international events such as MWC Barcelona and Smart City Expo World Congress.
- Dedication to Barcelona Industry Week (with IOT Solutions World Congress and Industry).
- Itma, the most important fair for the world’s textile industry returned for a second time, after the first in 2011.
- Major medical conventions: The World Congress on Lung Cancer and European meetings for Diabetes, Urology, Gastroenterology and Oncology and tech meetings like Cisco Live, VMworld, Linux or SAP TechEd.
- Success with Valmont Barcelona Fashion Bridal Week, Piscina & Wellness, the hundredth anniversary of Automobile Barcelona, Construmat, the Boat Show, Ensenyament, B-Travel, Manga, Còmic and Barcelona Meeting Point.
- Retail & Brand Experience World Congress was created to serve the retail trade in the middle of the digital boom and Fira was a joint organizer of the first edition of Fòrum Gastronòmic Barcelona.
- Ibtm World, the leading fair in business tourism, will continue to be held in Barcelona until 2022 at least.
- Seafood, the leading world fair for sea products, will be held in Barcelona from 2021, the same year that ISE will also take place, the most important event in the calendar of the audio-visual industry.
- Fira is collaborating in the design of fair venues in Santiago de Chile, Cartagena (Colombia), Accra (India) and Addis Abeba (Ethiopia).
Strategic venue plan
In order to gain in competitiveness and to strengthen its international positioning, Fira de Barcelona has prepared a strategic venue plan that is supported by Catalan institutions through the company Fira 2000 and which includes the study of a renovation project for Montjuïc with an eye on 2029 and the expansion of Gran Vía with over 60,000 m2 of space for 2024. The signing of the shareholder plan last November will ensure the financing of the proposed projects, which are expected to cost 330 million euros, and reinforces the backing of institutions for this major initiative for trade fairs.
According to the study carried out by the Institut d’Economia de Barcelona and the University of Barcelona, the expansion of the Gran Via site will generate an economic benefit for Catalonia of 675 million euros every year between 2024 and 2028 and it forecasts a further impact of 211 million euros more during the construction phase.
The attendance for the presentation of the results for 2019 was a public display of the support from Catalan institutions for this infrastructure plan. Besides the logical presence of the members of Fira’s General Council, the Mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, who is also the president, and the two vice-presidents, the Minister of Business and Knowledge of the Generalitat, Àngels Chacón, and the president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Joan Canadell, the vice-president of the Catalan Government and Minister of the Economy and Finance, Pere Aragonès and the Mayoress of L’Hospitalet and president of the Diputació de Barcelona, Núria Marín were also present.
Good perspectives for 2020
The outlook is also very positive for 2020 and Fira de Barcelona is forecasting a turnover of more than 205 million. In the words of its CEO, Constantí Serrallonga, the record of 200 million that was broken in 2018 is the starting point for the income earned by the institution over the coming years. It is “a prudent estimate in view of the complex social and economic environment, but our expectations are very high, as shown by the major events that will take place at our venues, the infrastructure projects that are under way and the forthcoming inclusion of the Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB) from 2021”.
This will all take place alongside the institution’s firm commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), adapting its strategies and activities accordingly. This approach found expression in 2019 with a number of actions carried out in the shows, like the Towards Zero Waste initiative applied during the Smart City Expo and Piscina & Wellness, among other events, to reduce the amount of waste and to promote efficient use of resources. It will carry on in 2020.