OUR readers have been asking plenty of questions about the NEC Group's involvement with Bradford Live over the last few months.

Amid ongoing silence from the NEC Group, many people want to know if the company is still attached to the multi-million pound project to transform Bradford's former Odeon cinema into a major entertainment venue.

Below we answer some of the most-asked questions we've been receiving.

What is the NEC Group?

Headquartered in Birmingham, the NEC Group describes itself as "one of the UK's leading live events businesses".

It operates in music, exhibitions, conferences, sports, hospitality and family entertainment.

Its website states: "Our vision is to be Europe's most successful live events business, operating leading leisure, entertainment and business destinations. We have over 40 years of experience in developing and managing dynamic venues. Our operations teams are recognised as the UK's leading experts and we continue to lead the live events industry in innovation and growth."

What venues are operated by the NEC Group?

The NEC Group website lists five venues it operates, saying they provide "unforgettable live experiences that reunite audiences year after year".

Those five venues are the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham; the Utility Arena in Birmingham; the Resorts World Arena in Birmingham; the International Convention Centre in Birmingham; and The Vox in Birmingham.

National ticketing agency The Ticket Factory is also among its assets.

Who owns the NEC Group?

In 2018, it was announced Blackstone had bought the NEC Group from LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.

Blackstone, which was founded in New York and has offices across the globe, describes itself as "one of the world's leading investment firms", adding: "We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems." 

Birmingham City Council used to own the NEC Group - before selling it to LDC in 2015.

Bradford Live said finishing touches are being applied to the buildingBradford Live said finishing touches are being applied to the building (Image: Bradford Live + Newsquest (top right))

What do the NEC Group's latest accounts show?

The NEC Group's latest accounts - for the year ended March 31, 2023 - recorded that the company generated EBITDAE (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and exception items) of £51.6million on revenue of £186.1m.

This was compared to EBITDAE of £16.1m on revenue of £92.1m for the year ended March 31, 2022.

The latest accounts said the NEC Group had been "severely impacted" by the Covid pandemic and lockdowns.

In 2020, it was reported that the NEC Group announced plans to cut around 450 jobs amid the pandemic.

The latest accounts added: "The directors are pleased with the progress that the company has made in building back its business, but we do not expect to return to pre Covid-19 trading levels until around 2025."

Do the NEC Group's latest accounts mention Bradford Live?


Under a section headed 'new venues', the NEC Group's latest accounts said: "Our refined offer for third-party venue owners enabled us to win the contract for the operation of the iconic (former) Bradford Odeon following its redevelopment in conjunction with Bradford Live. The facility will be managed alongside our existing arenas and ticketing business and we have exciting plans to use the building to its full potential when it reopens, staging live music, comedy, Bollywood shows, and other live performances."

When was the NEC Group awarded the contract for Bradford Live?

As previously reported by the Telegraph & Argus, Bradford Live has a long-term lease from the iconic building's owner, Bradford Council.

According to Companies House, Bradford Live is a private limited company by guarantee, meaning it does not have shares or shareholders, with Bradford Council currently listed as the only 'person of significant control' for Bradford Live.

In 2017, Bradford Live announced the NEC Group had been chosen as operating partner for the major project, with the NEC Group stating it would take a 30-year lease on the building and invest £2m towards the conversion costs.

In 2018, Bradford Council documents stated the Council had "committed to lending £12m to the project with the loan repayments secured against NEC's rental".

In the full accounts for Bradford Live ended March 31, 2023, the 'creditors amounts falling due after more than one year' section stated: "Included within other creditors is £13,712,457 (2022 - £5,273,702) due in respect of a loan from Bradford Metropolitan District Council."

When did the NEC Group say Bradford Live would launch?

According to Bradford Live, work on the building is in its "finishing touches".

In December last year, a spokesperson for the NEC Group said: "Developer, Bradford Live, will be handing the venue over to operator, the NEC Group, by mid-2024, before the group completes the final fit out in the following months. The venue's launch season will commence in autumn 2024." 

Last month, the T&A reported that the first two shows announced at Bradford Live - a Bob Marley tribute act and an Abba tribute act - had been cancelled.

No further shows at Bradford Live have so far been announced.

Does the NEC Group still have a contract for Bradford Live?

As reported by the T&A for around three months, many questions and concerns have been raised about the future of the Bradford Live project.

The NEC Group has repeatedly declined to reaffirm its commitment to Bradford Live or answer key questions when approached by the T&A. No comment was provided by the NEC Group today.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said today: "There is a contract with NEC and that remains in place. Building works at this world class venue are running to schedule and on target for practical completion in June."