Liverpool BID Company CEO Bill Addy hails ‘phenomenal’ impact of ACC Liverpool and says the new Accommodation BID will fuel further growth for the waterfront complex. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool BID Company chief executive Bill Addy says the waterfront ACC Liverpool complex is critical to the success and continued growth of the city’s £5bn visitor economy.
Speaking just a few weeks after ACC Liverpool, which operates the M&S Bank Arena and Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the Pullman Hotel, revealed its annual financial results, Bill explained how the centre was a major driver of footfall and spend in the city centre.
ACC Liverpool opened in 2008, the year when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture. In those 15 years it has welcomed more than 8.3m visitors to multiple events, concerts, conferences and exhibitions and generated an estimated £2.1bn in economic impact.
Its latest financial figures show the complex has recovered strongly from the dark days of the pandemic when the events industry across the world shut down for months on end.
For the 12 months to March 31, 2023, ACC Liverpool Group generated revenues of £30m a big increase from the £18.5m reported for the previous year when it was still being heavily impacted by the COVID.
It was also an improvement on the last full trading year before COVID when turnover hit £24.5m. These greatly improved results have allowed it to repay millions of pounds owed to its owner, Liverpool City Council.
Faye Dyer, chief executive of The ACC Liverpool Group, said: “This is a really encouraging set of trading results which reflect both our strong recovery, after a successful return to full capacity live events and the impact of targeted business improvement initiatives.”
2023 has seen multiple events take place at ACC Liverpool. Highlight of the year was undoubtedly Eurovision in May. Hailed as the most successful Eurovision ever it boosted Liverpool visitor numbers by 300,000 and generated an estimated £54m for the city.
October saw the return of the Labour Party Conference for the second year in a row. A record 18,000 delegates attended and boosted city centre businesses by an estimated £29m.
Bill Addy told LBN: “It is impossible to overestimate the impact of ACC Liverpool on the economy of our city centre. The value of our visitor economy has exploded in recent years and the M&S Arena and the Exhibition Centre are key drivers of that.
“Before it opened in 2008 there was sometimes a sense of a disconnect between the main city centre and the Albert Dock and waterfront. ACC Liverpool transformed that and helped us create a more joined up city centre.
“Eurovision illustrates its importance perfectly. Without ACC Liverpool the city would not have even been in the running for the contest. We would simply have had nowhere to stage it. Imagine that. Thankfully we were able to stage a showcase event that wowed the world.”
From its launch in 2008 up until 2021, ACC Liverpool was led by chief executive Bob Prattey. Speaking a few years ago he outlined how important the city’s hotel sector was to the success of the complex.
When it is trying to attract major events to the city one of the first things organisers ask is “how many hotels do you have to accommodate our delegates?”. Bob said: “Quite simply, we need every hotel room we can get our hands on.”
Liverpool’s hotel and accommodation sector has seen significant growth since 2008 with more hotels in the pipeline. Liverpool BID Company has also recognised its importance by establishing an Accommodation BID in late 2022.
The first of its kind in the UK, the Accommodation BID will see £4m invested into backing efforts to bring more events to the city over the next few years.
Bill added: “Capital of Culture really put the city on the map as a global tourist destination, hence the rapid growth of the hotel and accommodation sector over the last few years.
“Eurovision has now raised the bar further. We have to use the success of the event to take the city centre onto an even higher level.
“Setting up the Accommodation BID, which received the overwhelming support of the sector, was a strong statement of intent. Between the BID, the accommodation providers, and ACC Liverpool we can accelerate the growth of the visitor economy for years to come.”
Bill also praised ACC Liverpool for fully embracing the net zero agenda, something that has also become a major focus for Liverpool BID Company.
This year the BID announced it had teamed up with environmental consultancy Arete Zero Carbon to formulate a decarbonisation action plan.
ACC Liverpool has achieved carbon neutral status after working with leading sustainability organisation Carbon Neutral Britain to measure its total organisational emissions.
It has put a carbon reduction plan in place, offsetting its carbon footprint with credible, high-quality projects. Environment, sustainability and climate action are key focuses for its Social Value Impact Plan, which is about to enter its third year.
“We are in an era where business success isn’t just measured by the bottom line but also by the efforts an organisation makes to create social value and support the fight against climate change,” said Bill.
“During the pandemic ACC Liverpool pivoted to become a distribution hub for getting food and other supplies out to the most vulnerable people in our local communities.
“Its values align with ours. Yes, we are working together to create a more prosperous city and also a more inclusive one and a city that takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.”