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New ideas, zones and feature areas including Location, Logistics and Something SpecialExceptional networking opportunities

An £8 million venture capital injection two-and-a-halfyears ago gave UK consumer event organiser,Brand Events, the means to kick-start a globalexpansion strategy. Since then, the company has grownfrom five UK-based shows to 25 globally, and increasedturnover from £6m to £30m. Its ultimate objective is to tapinto people's passions with an experience they are willingto pay for, its MD Chris Hughes said. "Other people say we're a consumer show organiser, butwe're actually narrower than that and focus just onconsumer passions. We look at subjects people are deeplyengaged in," he said. Brand explorationToday, Brand Events' most iconic events are Taste and TopGear Live, while new additions in the past year areMasterchef Australia and the Golf Live show. The companyis working to find new audiences for each brand throughoutEurope, the US and Asia.Hughes said Brand Events' ability to compete globallycame through treating events as formats, then identifyingplaces where the structure could take hold successfully.Outside its London headquarters, Brand Events has jointventured or launched six additional offices: Australia, NewZealand, South Africa, Ireland, Holland and Italy, and isbuilding a presence in Hong Kong."In the main, we've done this by finding small,entrepreneurial partners that want to run our events in theircountry," Hughes explained. "We put half or more of themoney in, and start a business with them. "We have bought out or taken control of four of them sofar. What we're trying to do is operate a controlling stake ora Brand Events company in a country." It is working to extend Top Gear into these new countries,and work the high-profile brand into different event styles.The first Top Gear Festival is scheduled in South Africa inMarch, and will see 250 cars, racing drivers, celebritiesand rock bands combined in a single festival. More TopGear UK events are also on the cards."You'll still be able to see the Top Gear guys do their show,but there'll be lots of other things on track and in theatres,"Hughes said. "What we're trying to do is build out andcreate car heaven for the Top Gear fan." Taste is also being utilised to appeal to internationalconsumers. One surprising success was the launch ofTaste in Milan through ex-staff member Silvia Dorigo.Hughes said Dorigo's local knowledge, coupled with thestrong reputation of Taste through the food industry,overcame any language barriers and concerns that a well-respected food city wouldn't embrace the brand."Milan has unlocked our thinking because we now think itworks in Europe," Hughes continued. "We are now thinkingFeature| Exhibition World24| January 2011| THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NETBrand Events has set its sights firmly on becoming a significant consumer eventsplayer outside of the UK. Founder and MD Chris Hughestalks to Nadia Cameronabout his plans for global domination.Top Gear LiveGrowing internationallyChris Hughes