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Harrogate Convention Centre reports significant growth with strong forecast for next year

Harrogate Convention Centre


A group of people walking into a massive round building

The North Yorkshire conference and exhibition venue has reported significant business growth for the 2023/24 financial year, with a very strong lettings performance and an even stronger performance forecast for next year, indicating a continued recovery in the event industry post-Covid.

Highest Lettings Income Since 2014

Lettings income for Harrogate Convention Centre (HCC) in the year ending March 2024 is the highest since 2014, which is a 19% increase on 2022/23 and a 14% increase on pre-Covid levels in 2019/20. This is the second year of significant growth in a row.

The continued growth is a result of a new sales strategy that supports the full utilisation of conference and exhibitions spaces by enabling the venue to accommodate multiple events in different parts of the building complex.

Various initiatives implemented in recent years have also helped drive client satisfaction and attract new events. These include cosmetic improvements to the venue, sustainability and accessibility initiatives, a more targeted sales approach and the incorporation of the catering team under the in-house brand Matcham’s—a move that has brought significant improvement to the team’s catering capacity, service, menus, equipment, suppliers and overall performance.

A packed conference auditorium with audience members listening to a presenter.
Large-scale conferences brought significant income growth in 2023/24.

Conferences and Trade Exhibitions Drive Growth

Two event sectors that saw substantial growth are conferences and trade exhibitions. Lettings from conferences in 2023/24, which include national and international associations, professional and corporate conferences, have increased 27% on the previous year and surpassed pre-Covid levels (2019/20) by 17%, cementing Harrogate as a highly desirable conference destination.

Trade exhibitions, such as Harrogate Christmas & Gift Fair, Bridal Week Harrogate and the upcoming Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival that attracts thousands of visitors and exhibitors to Harrogate in July each year, have seen lettings increase 24% on 2022/23 and surpass pre-Covid levels (2019/20) by 22%.

Indeed, HCC is home to many decades-old trade exhibitions, which continue to see healthy growth in Harrogate. The BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) attracted more than 4,200 visitors this year and saw a 10% increase in exhibitor space; Harrogate Christmas & Gift Fair visitor numbers were up 11% on last year; The Flooring Show in 2023 exceeded pre-pandemic visitor numbers, attracting over 3,100 buyers, and Bridal Week Harrogate is adding an additional spring event to the venue this year.

A bustling indoor trade show with attendees walking around booths and interacting with exhibitors.
Home & Gift 2023

Next Major Trade Exhibition: Home & Gift

Having run in Harrogate for over 60 years, Home & Gift is returning this year on 21-24 July, presenting key sourcing and networking opportunities in sectors including gift and home, jewellery and fashion, design-led gift and food. This year the exhibition will host over 15% more exhibitors than 2023 and is expected to attract more than 6,000 delegates to Harrogate.

Taking over four exhibition halls at HCC and grounds of the DoubleTree by Hilton Majestic Hotel, the retail trade fair will showcase more than 20,000 products from over 500 brands across a new, significantly expanded footprint.

David Westbrooke, Home & Gift Show Manager, Clarion Retail, says, “Home & Gift is incredibly significant in UK Retail’s calendar; visitors and exhibitors alike love coming here every year, and it’s not just the excellent facilities on offer inside the show, but also the wonderful connection we have with the town itself – the hotels, the restaurants, the shops – they all contribute to the wonderful atmosphere we find here every Summer. We’re delighted to be part of it!”

Wide shot of a round building, showcasing its architectural design
Growth is expected to continue at HCC.

Strong Growth Anticipated for Next Year

Growth is expected to continue, as lettings revenue has already exceeded target for 2024/25 and is going strong for 2025/26.

Paula Lorimer, Director of Harrogate Convention Centre, says: “The exceptional business performance we achieved last year provides a welcome signal of robust and continuous growth surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Despite the current economic environment, the resilience and hard work of our wonderful team have continued to deliver a superb event experience for organisers and delegates. Forward-looking bookings for the years ahead are promising. These results demonstrate the strong demand we are seeing within the event industry and reaffirm that Harrogate remains highly attractive for event organisers.”

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