The business of staging outdoor events flourished in 2017, and temporary structure companies are bucking the trend. Neptunus, GL events, Losberger De Boer, and Acorn Event Structures – leading companies in the sector – have reported an increase in the number of contracts during last year. They have also pointed out that the ability to provide bespoke solutions has been crucial in reaching success.

Competition continues to be tough. Organisers want an event space fit to provide the ultimate experience to the public and the pressure on suppliers to provide a solution that is cost efficient, of the highest standard, and unique. The latter seems key to standing out from the crowd.

“In 2017 we have completed projects in UK, Ireland and Europe and as far afield as the Caribbean,” says Acorn MD Andy Nutter, noting that the company saw a large increase in staging work for international touring artists in addition to regular events.

Stronger than steel

The Leeds-based firm provided ground levelling platforms for events such as Frieze London, and temporary structures and scaffold infrastructure for events such as Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Nutter explains having invested £1.8m in its Super Structure in 2016, our fully weather-proof, inter-changeable temporary structure, boasted an even bigger footprint in 2017.

The Super Structure made its debut as the Steel Yard at Creamfields 2016. Nutter says it immediately caught the attention of many on the festival scene and the world of staging as it scooped three industry awards in 2017, including the Innovation Award at the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation conference (NASC), Best Stage at Festival Supplier Awards and Best Staging Supplier at the Event Production Awards. 

It offers 6,000sqm of space with over 100-tonne production loading and 10,000 capacity. “Our Super Structure has generated a lot of interest worldwide, from the staging world to the TV & film industry to aviation,” Nutter says.

Nutter says the company will continue to invest in new products. Acorn is currently developing and engineering a number of bespoke structures for 2018 to meet growing demand including unique stages, temporary theatres, pavilions and exhibition structures to name a few.

Acorn continues to invest in new products and is currently developing and engineering a number of bespoke structures for 2018 to meet growing demand including unique stages, temporary theatres, pavilions and exhibition structures to name a few.

The personal touch

John Cochrane, sales director of Losberger De Boer UK, says the staff is responsible of the success they saw in 2017. “We have great structures of course, but so do our competitors. However, no other company has our Losberger De Boer team of people. It is our team of experts in every discipline required to make a structure sales and rental company that work so well.”

Last year, Losberger acquired structures supplier De Boer, and the merger was completed in the second quarter. He explains: “Losberger and De Boer are in the early stages of integration, so naturally this will take time to settle and organise, but we are making great progress on that front. The main challenge is to ensure the work we are involved in is profitable, well executed and safe – normal business.”

Cochrane points out that Losberger De Boer is lucky to have such a varied inventory and so 2017 was a very good year in the round.

“There have been highs and lows, but thankfully the highs have outweighed the lows by some margin.”

Losberber De Boer portfolio is extensive and includes the 50m wide Jumbo Halls to the circular Panorama. Cochrane says that the ever popular and flexible Delta structure was the star performer of 2017.

Delta is characterised by its modular construction and roof system. It can be built to a height of 3.5m to 10m. The shape of the roof allows for individually designed structure shapes in units of 5x5m. The options are virtually limitless, making it possible to hold a wide variety of events under this roof.

Cochrane points out that occasionally suppliers can offer exactly what a customer is looking. “That is the easy deal,” he says. “Sometimes, however, customers don’t really know what they might require, and that is when we have to help design and form ideas, which evolve through the process of negotiation.”

Looking ahead, 2018 looks promising. Cochrane says: “We can cope with many large and complex projects simultaneously. What we never do, however, is trying to take on ‘just one more job’ – this only compromises everything we are trying to achieve.”

Pop-up solutions

In 2017 Neptunus supplied temporary structures to more than 70 events and businesses and was also able to attract some new regular events into its portfolio, including ‘Glamour Women of the Year Awards’. At the same time, the company has been developing relationships with existing clients including the Royal Horticultural Society and the Harrogate Flower Show.

“We have a wide range of temporary structures for every occasion but one of our most popular, and probably most versatile, is our Evolution structure,” says  Neptunus MD April Trasler.

The Evolution boasts the look and feel of a high-quality permanent building but with the flexibility to provide space for a multitude of uses.

“In the events world, the Evolution is used to create a bespoke exhibition space for the Masterpiece Art Fair,” Trasler says adding that it also can be transformed into a 2,000-seat capacity performance theatre.

Indeed, the company supplied the Evolution to the National Eisteddfod of Wales and it was also used the pop-up Pantodrome for the star-sudded Jack and the Beanstalk in Newcastle’s city centre.

“The Evolution accommodates hospitality facilities at major sports events and exhibitions and is also very popular for semi-permanent uses such as sports halls, car showrooms supermarkets, warehouses and temporary airport terminals. It really is an immensely versatile structure,” Trasler comments.

The Neptunus boss points out that customers are frequently looking for something bespoke for their event but to try and start to develop something from scratch. “That is exciting and different, but can be out of reach because of the cost implications,” she says. “At Neptunus, we have been able to offer our clients bespoke solutions thanks to our in-house design team cleverly adapting existing models with unique add-ons, transforming a standard structure into something exceptional. Our latest addition, the circular Salacia, was created by exactly this method.  It means we can come up with really cutting-edge solutions that are affordable,.”

Neptunus is confident in 2018, and Trasler says the team is looking forward to the spectacular Dinosaurs in the Wild event, which comes to London in February. “We are supplying the venue for its eight-month long run in Greenwich. It really is a jaw-dropping event.”

Continuing growth

GL events reported another year of growth in 2017. David Tunnicliffe, commercial director, GL events UK, says the company’s performance is in keeping with its long-term growth strategy. “What has been particularly pleasing though is the long-term contracts that we have secured with some of the best events in the world,” he says.

Tunnicliffe explains: We’ve really shown our specialism across horse racing, golf, tennis and Formula 1 – as well as Formula E, for that matter. We’ve also secured long-term relationships across the outdoor exhibition market, which is really pleasing.”

The portfolio of GL events features multi-deck temporary structures, traditional and contemporary marquees and tiered seating. Tunnicliffe is quick to point out the move by many of its customers towards premium products, which has pushed the company to make key investments.

“We’ve made two major capital expenditure investments. The first was more than £500,000, the second just a little less – so we invest a lot!” Tunnicliffe says.

Beyond the continual upkeep of the materials we use. GL events investment aimed to meet the demand for premium features and fixtures. “As clients commit to longer partnerships with GL events, we’re keen to ensure that their investment goes right back into the product itself,” Tunnicliffe explains.

This increased investment in comfort and bespoke factors can be seen in new offerings such as automatic doors, designer interiors, branding, and bespoke event overlay.

“In the area of seating, clients including Lancashire County Cricket Club are increasingly opting for the most generous seating products available. Tunnicliffe says these details make a massive difference to visitors’ experience.

The GL events boss admits that organisers need to source the best possible event infrastructure and to source the specification that suits their budget. They also want, Tunnicliffe, a supplier who can be trusted to get things right the first time.

“We’ve been working proactively with the National Outdoor Events Association, as part of its Futures Supporter initiative, to develop better conversations between buyers and suppliers across the outdoor events industry. We believe this conversation has been key to a large amount of our success as a business, and we’re keen to share our experience with others in the industry,” Tunnicliffe concludes. AAA