NEC Group plans path to world prominence

Paul Thandi, NEC Group's chief executive, has chosen a Media Lunch to air details of his determination to assist Birmingham in its effort to become a city of international repute, the Birmingham Post has revealed. Speaking to a group of invited guests, Mr Thandi expressed his belief that NEC Group could come to Birmingham's assistance by developing conference facilities fit for the world stage.

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is already the busiest exhibition and conference centre in Europe, Call Centre Clinic reports. Every year, around 2.3 million people attend the 160 events put on at the exhibition centre, which has a covered area of 200,000 metres squared. However, the NEC Group is not about to rest on its laurels, as it is currently in the midst of a Venue Improvement Programme.

This £40 million project will see NEC Group's offices relocated to the centre - a ruse which it is hoped will allow staff to interact more profitably with customers, ultimately enabling them to improve their service. Improvements are also being made to the Piazza and halls one to five, especially with regards to the flooring, lighting, plasma screens, seating, toilets, catering and signage.

However, Mr Thandi made clear at the lunch that NEC Group was not about to stop there. The corporate entertainment market is to be targeted in particular, with a new VIP 'party deck' set to appear at the 11,000 capacity LG Arena. This area will be akin to the corporate hospitality boxes at football stadia, and will include higher-end catering facilities.

According to Mr Thandi, this is part of a process to ensure NEC Group can evolve with the times.
"We have a whole range of products which we want to showcase. It is all about ensuring that the NEC, which is nearly 20 years old, is fit for the 21st century," he told the Birmingham Post.

As well as developing the NEC brand in Birmingham and the UK, Mr Thandi is also keen to ensure that the group ethos is propagated further afield. Designing, building and events management expertise has already been used in the setting up of the national Convention Centre Dublin (CCD), which, despite not opening for a further two years, already has 11 bookings. This means revenue of more than £16 million has already been secured, the Birmingham Post reports, and confirms NEC Group's world focus.

"We want to extend our reach beyond Birmingham and onto an international platform," Nick Waight, managing director of group convention centres at the NEC, confirmed in the paper.

Other big plans for the NEC include the building of a £90 million leisure and entertainment complex, as reported by the BBC. The Resorts World at the NEC is due to open in 2012 and looks set to include a casino, bars, restaurants, a hotel and spa.

Significantly, it also includes conference facilities - further proof that Mr Thandi will follow through with his promise to established the National Exhibition Centre as a leader in this field.

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