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Entrepreneurs Panel

Michael Oliver
Steve Purdham
Richard O'Sullivan
Debbie Pierce
Jeremy Roberts
Laura Tenison
David Pollock
Jennie Johnson
Charlie Mullins
Julie Meyer
Tony Caldeira
Brian Hay

Five minutes with…Eric Everard

Like Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur Eric Everard's first business was a student magazine.

Everard, who founded trade show company easyFairs Group, launched two titles called Univers-Cite and Kampus when he was just 22 years old.

He says he spotted the opportunity for something that wasn't there, so acted upon it.

Everard then organised a student fair, which attracted hundreds of students from all over the globe.

Following a stint in Paris as a director with events company Reed Midem, the entrepreneur took up a role as director-general at Reed Exhibitions Benelux.

He then used all of the experience he gained within these roles to launch his own events company, easyFairs.

Headquartered in Belgium, the company employs around 220 people and organises trade shows for "people who want to do business".

easyFairs runs more than 100 shows per year in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Everard says he decided to start the business because he believes that with the growing popularity of all things digital, people still need to meet face-to-face.

However, he realised that in the past some trade shows had become too expensive, so he wanted to keep trade shows alive but at a lower cost.

Exhibitors pay one fee, which has "everything in" from the stand to marketing information in the show brochures.

However, Everard says it is not just about face-to-face contact. It is also about innovation and learning.

"Delegates don't just want to buy goods and services from the exhibitors. They also want to learn. We created learn shops and now organise more than 1,000 a year."

Turnover for the group is around €85 million (£69.1 million), while profits are approximately €10 million (£8.1 million), according to Everard.

He tells EN that he polled thousands of visitors to the exhibitions set up by easyFairs to ask what their main source of information will be in the next three years. The number one answer was trade shows.

This, he says, shows that demand for such events is still going strong.

easyFairs is responsible for the Business North West trade exhibition, which took place in Manchester in April.

A number of entrepreneurs and experts took to the stage to talk all things business including Miss Fit UK founder, Niki Hesford, Jo Fairley, co-founder of organic chocolate company Green & Black's, and the man behind children’s luggage range Trunki, Rob Law.

Everard says exhibitions and trade shows like Business North West are essential for business owners because attendees get to mix with like-minded people.

He believes that after a visit to a trade show, entrepreneurs will be in a much stronger position to grow their business because of the invaluable advice they will have picked up.

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