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M& 15STONELEIGH EVENTS The most flexible indoor and outdoor venue in the country.Want to know more?www.stoneleighpark.comTel: 0844 847 6685Email: sales@stoneleighpark.comEXHIBITIONSCONFERENCESBANQUETSTEAM BUILDINGACCOMMODATIONOUTDOOR EVENTSStoneleigh CN Advert June 219x72mm.indd 107/06/2011 13:52DEALMAKERSSustainable building construction, learning and tequila take centre stage in Steve Monnington's latest mergers and acquisitions round-upt has been a little quieter on the M&A front as people take their summer holidays but the acquisition of International Business Events, organiser of Ecobuild, by UBM's Built Environment division generated significant noise nonetheless. David Wood and Moira Edwards have built a fantastic brand that has shown rapid growth over the last few years to become the world's largest exhibition dedicated to sustainable building products. Ecobuild has long been on the shopping list of a number of the major organisers and it has taken a hefty price of up to £51m, including deferred consideration, to unlock it. This is the largest amount paid for a single show for some time and UBM seems to have justified the price with expectations of continued high growth by doubling in size over the next four years, as well as a comprehensive geo-cloning plan covering China, Brazil, India and the UAE.CloserStill Media has added to the recent acquisitions of Cloud Expo from Red Publishing in the UK (April 2011) and the European Bio Energy Expo from Biofuels Media (also in April) with the purchase of technology education conference player Learning Without Frontiers. In line with its usual business model, Learning Without Frontiers founder Graham Brown-Martin has joined CloserStill as an ongoing minority shareholder. The acquired event, which focuses on the use of mobile, video game and social media to drive learning practices, is extremely synergistic with Learning Technologies, which was acquired by CloserStill as its second-ever investment in May 2009. Therefore it's no surprise to see that the two events are to be co-located in 2012. CloserStill continues to find under-the-radar businesses with innovative management who are happy to continue to drive their events forward for the new owners in the expectation that they will realise additional capital value for their remaining stake somewhere down the line.We have seen a lot of acquisition activity in Turkey over recent months but this has all centred on Istanbul, where there are three main exhibition centres that host a large variety of exhibitions. Ankara has always been the poor relation to Istanbul when it comes to the exhibition sector. This is to be expected given that Istanbul is the business centre of Turkey but Ankara's position hasn't been helped by a severe lack of suitable indoor permanent exhibition space.The new Ankara Convention and Exhibition Centre will start to redress the balance. Although it is primarily a conference centre, there is also a 10,400sqm exhibition hall and plans for further expansion. GL Events and Serenas, a Turkish PCO, won the tender to run the centre and GL Events has also announced the acquisition of 70 per cent of Serenas. Finally, an acquisition that I wish we could have brokered. The IWSC Group, organiser of the International Wine and Spirit Competition and the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition, acquired The Polished Palate in the US. The Polished Palate has been organising the market-leading Spirits of Mexico tequila tasting festivals since 2005. Its flagship event is Spirits of Mexico San Diego: The oldest, largest and most comprehensive festival for agave and other Mexican spirits in North America. It is held every year in mid-September to coincide with Mexican Independence Day and attracts more than 80 tequila brands and at least 2,500 consumers. Can you imagine the due diligence done on that one?- Steve Monnington is the MD of Mayfield Media Strategies. I

his summer, gardening officially became the new rock and roll. Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood revealed he had been doing "a lot more than just weeding" in his spare time and was using gardening as a way to help overcome his addiction to alcohol and drugs.Now you know that, maybe it wouldn't be such a shock to see him visiting next year's Chelsea Flower Show. However, the UK offers more than just the latest gardening glitterati and champagne receptions. Many gardening events are being built on solid roots.Blossoming sectorAccording to Southport Flower Show CEO David Jackson, gardening has risen in popularity recently because it offers a casual and affordable pastime people can turn to in times of recession."It doesn't have to be expensive and the increased interest in 'growing your own' produce has also helped gardening shows remain appealing," he said. "It's then our job to keep our show fresh and draw those interested along to visit."Celebrity endorsement and increased national media coverage of gardening has been welcomed by Adrian Prior-Sankey, marketing director of the 145-year old Taunton Flower Show, who claimed it heightens awareness alongside the great work done by those in our sector. Despite this, the majority of people visiting gardening exhibitions still tend to be of the older generation. Organisers are aware of the potential problem this could raise and are working to appeal to younger generations across the sector."We've been putting together a robust entertainment package aimed at children and families since 2004," said Prior-Sankey. "We need SHOW CASE16 in sunlightJames Barrett leans on his spade and takes a look at the future of uk gardening events and some of the latest kids on the blocktOrganic Britain. There are 330,000 UK allotment owners.. In a survey of 1,000 people, 26 per cent were growing their own fruit and vegetables.. The vegetable seed market hit an historic high of £60m in 2010.. 70 per cent of total seed sales are vegetables.. Most people grow their own "to save money".- Edible Garden Show/ICM Researchto stay relevant and we've added music, crafts and photography areas in recent years."Another recent addition to the Taunton Flower Show is a children's section. This year's theme is Egyptian. "We'll have a huge pyramid, camel and an expert on Egyptian dancing on-hand," Prior-Sankey continued. "If we make it as memorable as possible, hopefully younger generations will want to return in the future."Jackson admitted his Southport show, which averages 80,000 visitors a year, has also had to adapt to changing attitudes towards gardening while trying to retain its overall ethos. Southport mainly attracts people from the region aged 35 to 55, however exhibitors this year included an environmentally friendly cinema and authors of gardening books to extend the appeal to wider audiences."It would be so difficult to launch a Chelsea Flower Show-style event now," he claimed. "It would take awfully deep pockets to put on an event of such scale."Plugging into natureOne launch show this year that grabbed the public's fascination with 'grow your own' was the Edible Garden Show. After a shaky start and decision to postpone the launch in 2010, this year's event attracted 11,000 visitors. At the time, organiser Channell Events told EN exhibitors were wary of supporting the show during the recession."Our research was strong and we knew the concept would work," said event director Bev Channell. The show included demonstrations and seminars as it knew its audience "wanted an experience as well as an event".Technology also played a part attracting what Channell claimed was a varied audience. "We used social media like Twitter, which may have aided in reaching out to younger enthusiasts." She added the team is looking to see what value Quick Response (QR) codes could add in 2012.Both Jackson and Prior-Sankey have Wi-Fi enabled across their sites, and each one is considering digital video marketing and live webcam streams to add longevity and reach to their brands. It seems nature and technology can co-exist in mutual harmony.Every gardening show speaks of the value of community. Some attract willing volunteers that populate event sites; some even travel great distances to be involved. Others claim the mix of professional and amateur visitors makes for a vibrant show floor.With exposure and visitors on their side, gardening event organisers certainly appear to have a healthy future.