Events specialists see 2009 slowdown, but no disaster

By Murray Pollok29 October 2008

Losberger tents rented outside the Watercube swimming venue at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Losberger tents rented outside the Watercube swimming venue at the Beijing Olympic Games.

The events rental market is preparing for a slowdown in 2009, but several major temporary structure rental companies and manufacturers told IRN that 2009 would not see a dramatic downturn in the sector.

Matthias Raff, managing director of Losberger, one of the world's largest manufacturers of tents and temporary structures and also a rental company in its home market of Germany, told IRN that the company expected flat sales in 2009 after 15 years of continuous growth.

However, he said the company's industrial related business - selling and renting semi-permanent structures to industrial customers - could be sustained; "The reason is that in the last 30 years of recession-type phases, [we have found] that companies in the industrial sector looking to invest in a new building, or for expansion or renovation, they turn to temporary/semi-permanent structures instead. They come to us. The point is, if the industrial sector is hit by 100, it will not hit us by 100."

Mr Raff said Losberger had suffered just one cancellation of one of its rental contracts in Germany - a corporate Christmas party - and that its major rental company customers had said they would be a little more conservative in their capital expenditure in 2009, with orders more likely to be placed at the "last minute". Losberger will itself cut capital expenditure on its own rental fleet by around 15-20% in 2009, said Mr Raff.

Ludo Ost, commercial director and market development at Belgian tent manufacturer and rental company Veldeman, told IRN that the company had not noticed a big change to the events market yet; "I think [the credit crisis] should not have influence on big events, but on smaller events - private parties - it could have. We are focused on big events with our products. If I look at sponsorship of major events like the British Open, or the BMW PGA - these things won't stop."

Mr Ost, speaking to IRN at the recent Showman's Show in the UK, said it was too early to say whether its rental customers would reduce their spending - "Their investments are normally made around February" - and said that Veldeman planned to continue to grow its own rental fleet by 5-10% next year.

However, a dissenting view was given by Derek de Villenfagne, managing director of French structure manufacturer SpanTech. He told IRN that events rental companies in France were having difficulty in getting finance for tents and marquees; "The bank crisis will hit rental companies and also industrial companies...[but] we are not pessimistic. We supply niche structures, and we think that there is still going to be a lot of things going on. We can survive and grow based on our differentiation."

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