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Glasgow’s SEC reveals £150m expansion plan

Bosses want to add a new conference centre and extend the exhibition space.

One of the UK’s largest events hubs has revealed plans for a £150 million expansion.

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow already holds the SEC Centre, the SEC Armadillo and The SSE Hydro – major purpose-built spaces for exhibitions, conferences and live entertainment.

Bosses say they now want to add a new conference centre and extend the exhibition space, warning that “standing still is not an option” in the competitive conference market.

They say they have applied for planning permission in principle and are in funding talks with the city council and Scottish and UK governments over the proposal.

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The SEC already holds three major venues (SEC/PA)

SEC chief executive Peter Duthie said: “We believe there’s an opportunity to do something world class with the venue, to be ambitious and to capitalise on an industry that Scotland is already successful in.”

A feasibility study looking at the proposals has been carried out.

Mr Duthie said: “We’ll be looking to build an additional 5,000 sq metres of exhibition space, extending our exhibition halls, and effectively build a new conference centre but connected into the existing facilities.

“One thing that will do is allow us to stage two events simultaneously of scale.

“At the moment, if we have a conference in for the week, pretty much that’s it. We believe the market is big enough that if we had the equivalent facility we could stage two at once and thereby significantly increase the economic benefit.”

He said he hopes to have reached “a meaningful position with regard to securing funding” by the end of the year.

“We are living in a world where competition in the conference industry worldwide is increasing significantly,” Mr Duthie said.

Standing still is not an option. Scotland really needs to invest to move forward, but we're well placed to do that SEC chief executive Peter Duthie

“Standing still is not an option. Scotland really needs to invest to move forward, but we’re well placed to do that with the facilities we have here, the location of it, the transport links, the increasing hotel provision, which is already being driven through the city, and the team we have here as well.”

The plans emerged as Scottish Event Campus Limited revealed a 1% increase in turnover in 2017/18 to £29.1million, with operating profit up by 19% to £1.3million.

And the development of two nearby hotels is expected to begin this summer, with both due to open next year.

“This will increase the number of hotel bedrooms around the campus from 950 to almost 1,400 and will be an invaluable addition to support our growing conference and exhibition sectors as well as our live entertainment offering,” Mr Duthie added.

He went on: “The SEC continues to be an economic driver for Glasgow and Scotland and the results are measured not only in financial terms but also by the economic impact of the campus which generated net additional expenditure of over £1million per day in the Glasgow area, a total of £400million for the year.”

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