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Pico: Shanghai Expo to out-earn Beijing Olympics
By Kwong Man-ki (HK Edition)
Updated: 2009-03-21 07:44

HONG KONG: The 2010 Shanghai World Expo will be the next highlight on the mainland following the Beijing Olympics and the profits may be much higher.

Pico Far East, a Hong Kong-listed exhibition and event marketing services provider, expects turnover attributed to the Expo to be 20 times more than the Olympics.

"The Shanghai Expo can do better than other cities did as the officials have accumulated experience in organizing big events during the Olympics," said Steven Fang, Pico's president for the Greater China Region. The Olympics helped train project managers, experts in logistics and other professionals, Fang said.

Pico started hiring architects and designers for pavilions at the Expo since early 2008. The company has also set up an office in Shanghai. Fang expects the Expo to generate HK$300 million to HK$400 million in sales.

The company recently won the tender to plan and manage the Urban Best Practice Area (UBPA) pavilion, an area in Puxi that will feature different cultures during the Expo. Fang said participating countries and regions are invited to display their cultures in the area of "mostly buildings".

For example, the concept of the Macao Pavilion is Jade Rabbit, Fang said, noting a historic Macao pawnshop "Tak Seng On" will be rebuilt at the UBPA.

Fang said Hong Kong hasn't decided what to put in the UBPA but a separate Hong Kong pavilion will feature a model style design and look transparent.

The Expo will take place from May 1 to October 31, 2010.

The six-month duration means that engaging in pavillion operation and management "will bring good economic benefits to the company", said Fang. Pico is still in talks with other participants to assist companies in building corporate pavillions.

Last year, turnover attributed to the mainland market accounted for 20 percent of the group's total.

Beside the Shanghai World Expo, Pico will also engage in Guangzhou Asian Games and Shenzhen Universiade in 2011.

Fang admitted that Pico's business is exposed to the financial crisis. "Some companies have cut their budget or even withdrawn from exhibitions."

He hopes that mainland sales can be maintained in 2009.

For the long run, Fang sees the contribution from the mainland to grow to 40 percent of total turnover.

The growth in the exhibition business may be stagnant in other markets after the financial crisis but the relatively good business opportunities in China may offset that.

Asked about Hong Kong's exhibition business, Fang said the number of exhibitions is almost fixed and unlikely to grow substantially.

"We hope that Hong Kong can provide more venues. Indeed, the space for exhibitions is limited."

(HK Edition 03/21/2009 page5)