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Reed CEO sets sights on growth in China

Last week, Reed Exhibitions Greater China held its 2012 China Summit. Every year, the one-day conference, which takes place in Beijing, brings together top executives of Reed worldwide with the company’s senior managers in China.

Mike Rusbridge, chairman and CEO of Reed Exhibitions, used his keynote address to discuss Reed China’s focus for 2012.

Mike Rusbridge

Mike Rusbridge

In his speech, Rusbridge told delegates that despite the gloomy growth prospects in many global markets, he believes that China in general, and Reed China in particular, could buck this trend in the coming year. Central to this belief is the economic recovery evident in 2011 and the initiation of several Reed programs that significantly boosted growth.

To illustrate his point, Rusbridge referenced Reed China’s new International Promotion Program (IPP), an initiative launched in 2011 to increase global content at local shows through a streamlined sales and marketing strategy.

Following the introduction of the IPP, non-Chinese visitors to Aluminium China, the company’s foremost aluminum trade fair, jumped 76 percent. By applying such programs across a wider spectrum of shows and designing new programs to replicate the IPP’s success in 2012, Reed China plans to sustain its current high growth rate.

“China is a world-leading economy,” said Rusbridge. “I think when we in the West refer to it as emerging, we are talking about maturity, not growth.”

According to Reed, the growth stems from the concentric migration of international business away from the traditional strongholds of Europe and the U.S., toward the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. This burgeoning demand to access markets like China runs parallel to one of Reed’s major strengths, the International Sales Group (ISG). ISG specializes in bringing customers from a diverse range of economies to local Reed events. More than that, it supports companies entering China and helps them generate business and find constructive partners.

Because ISG employs local talent, the staff understands the cultural considerations as well as the commercial concerns of the regions in which they work.

“The important message I want to give you is that, although we’re a global business, we are actually a network of local teams developing local markets,” said Rusbridge.

Looking ahead to 2012, Rusbridge believes the strength and versatility of the Reed management team would be integral to the company’s success.

“In 2012, we will continue to innovate, rather than simply consolidate a strong position,” he said. “We won’t settle for being a key player in mature markets or having a leading position here in China. Rather, we want to sharpen our competitive edge by achieving fast, smart growth across a diverse range of sectors by recruiting talented, experienced people.”

Rusbridge closed his address by affirming that Reed was looking to shift the balance of its growth to rapidly emerging markets. 
“By 2014, one third of our business will come from high-growth emerging markets,” he said.

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