Informa, a British provider of information services, advanced learning, B2B exhibitions and events, said that demand for physical events “remains strong” and it expects the sector to resume growing from next year after having being hit by Covid-19-related restrictions.

Informa’s unit Informa Markets is involved in numerous trade shows including Magic, Micam Americas, Coterie and APLF Leather.

“Demand for B2B event platforms that connect buyers and sellers efficiently, at scale, remains strong, as evidenced through the return of our business in Mainland China,” Informa explained. The group expressed confidence in experiencing a “period of revitalisation and growth” through 2022-2024. It expects 2021 to be a transition year for physical events.

Nevertheless, Informa plans to continue expanding B2B digital services. In 2020, it generated more than £100 million (€115m-$138m) of revenues from virtual and hybrid events, with further growth targeted in 2021. “In addition, our belief in the power and value of data is being accelerated through Iris, a centralized platform for collating, managing and curating all our customer data across B2B events and digital services,” it said.

In 2020, group revenues fell to £1.661 billion pounds (€1.915bn-$2.300bn) from £2.890 billion (€3.332bn-$4.002bn) a year earlier while adjusted operating profit dropped to £267.8 million (€309m-$423m) from £933.1 million (€1.076bn-$1.219bn). On a reported basis, Informa posted an operating loss of 880.4 million pounds (€1.014bn-$1.219bn) against a profit of 538.1 million (€620m-$745m) in 2019.

For 2021, the group has a baseline revenue forecast of £1.7 billion (€1.96bn-$2.35bn). Beating the guidance will depend on the pace at which it can reintroduce physical events during the year.

In the U.S., which is its main market, Informa has enjoyed a progressive return to physical events on a state-by-state basis. In its second largest market, Mainland China, the company has run 45 post-Covid events.

Physical events are resuming in Australia, Dubai, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and the U.K. But, in Continental Europe there is continued uncertainty over the pace and rate of return to physical events, Informa pointed out.