Case study

UK government helps Arena Group win Rio 2016 Olympics contracts in Brazil

Arena Group used UK government export advice and support to build on its success at London 2012 and secure business with other sports projects.

Sochi 2014 (c) Arena Group
Sochi 2014 (c) Arena Group

This company was assisted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which has since moved to the Department for International Trade (DIT).

International event design and delivery company, Arena Group, delivered many of the temporary venues for the London 2012 Olympics. Working closely with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) the company has secured 2 major contracts in Brazil for Rio 2016 Olympics projects:

  • £5 million contract to provide temporary structures for test events across 7 Rio 2016 venues
  • £5 million contract for the delivery and construction of temporary structures in 2016 in the Deodoro Olympic Park

Joe O’Neill, Arena Group’s former Director for International Business Development, stated,

The assistance, involvement and support of UKTI were central to Arena’s overseas success.

UKTI’s people on the ground provided us with invaluable knowledge and information on local culture and markets, and access to contacts that we would have not had ourselves.

Brian Dent, UKTI London International Trade Adviser, said,

Arena Group has extensive experience of providing event overlay solutions, such as seating and temporary structures, at major sports, music and cultural events around the world.

They have made effective use of UKTI support and services, working with UK and international staff to get advice on organising committee structures and to gain introductions to key decision-makers.

Arrange a face to face meeting with an International Trade Adviser (ITA) and find out more about DIT services.

Working with UKTI

Arena Group wanted to expand into new markets after building their European business. They met with Brian Dent in 2011 prior to the London 2012 Olympics to learn how UKTI might help them further develop their offering overseas.

The London 2012 Olympic showcase established the Group’s credibility and capability, providing a legacy of inventory, particularly for clearview™ seating. This was subsequently used for other Global games, such as Brazil FIFA World Cup, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Great products and a strong business plan made a winning combination.

UKTI have supported Arena Group in building their business and delivering projects in several new countries including Qatar, Russia, Brazil, Korea, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong.

Since 2012 the company has acquired businesses in North America and Malaysia; better positioning them to deliver global projects.

Brian Dent said,

Negotiations around supplying major events are complicated and lengthy and by using UKTI, Arena Group is able to keep updated on global developments without needing their own staff at every meeting.

Joe O’Neill credits UKTI with assisting in business wins around international sporting events in Brazil, Russia and Qatar. He said:

Participating in UKTI events gives us a forum to showcase our expertise to potential customers.

UKTI also helped us to win business for the Russia Sochi Winter Olympics and the Qatar FIFA 2014 celebrations.

UKTI’s market experts and trade advisers were there to advise Arena Group on new markets. Working with UKTI allowed Arena Group to overcome the main obstacles to exporting namely language barriers and lack of knowledge on local culture and business.

Partnership with UKTI gives Arena Group a voice on an international platform and allows us to build our profile around the world.

Ways in which UKTI helped Arena Group develop their business

UKTI’s international advisers have provided Arena Group with invaluable access to local on the ground knowledge and networks.

Participation in UKTI events enabled Arena Group to:

  • engage directly with an overseas audience tailored to match their business offer
  • save time and money due to focused strategic marketing

Arena Group became a member of the UKTI Sports Committee in 2011 providing access to:

  • a like-minded business community
  • invaluable contacts
  • market intelligence
  • business leads
  • feed into UKTI experiences and help shape their customer offer

2016 Rio Olympics contracts

Attendance at events, with the legitimacy of the UK government behind them, provides important networking opportunities for companies.

Joe O’Neill said,

We met our Brazilian partner through the UKTI Soccerex event 2 years ago and UKTI helped us to secure our contracts around the Rio 2016 Olympics, worth an estimated value of £10 million.

A year of targeted work in Brazil with UKTI included attendance at:

  • a UKTI Global Sports market visit in Brazil with Brian Dent in 2015
  • UKTI sports and infrastructure networking reception celebrating ‘One Year to go’ featuring around 150 guests from British and Brazilian companies, government officers and the Global Sports Mission delegates

Benefits to Britain and beyond

Expanding the business internationally has meant more jobs in Arena’s UK branches and overseas, where they make use of local language skills through employment of British expatriates and local people.

Following their recent successes, Arena Group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Greg Lawless, is targeting ambitious growth in the coming year. Significant overseas expansion and acquisitions will play a part in this growth.

Arena Group will continue to use UKTI services, such as export credit guarantees and finance, to help them to reach their targets.

About Arena Group

Arena Group began life over 100 years ago and is now one of the most trusted event suppliers in the industry. The company was ranked second in the 2015 Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200, due to their rapid international growth.

Fast facts

Company Arena Group
Industry Global sports
Target markets Global: specific focus on international events: Russia; Brazil; Middle East, USA and Asia
DIT services Market visits, Events
Published 22 March 2016