Revenue at Reed Exhibitions declined 40% (36% in constant currencies, which excludes the impact of foreign exchange) in the first half of 2021 compared to last year, with sales falling to £121 million, parent company RELX reported. Cost-cutting efforts reduced the operating loss to £48 million, from £66 million in the six months of 2020. RELX said the drop in revenue was due to holding a regular slate of conferences in the first two months of 2020 before the pandemic hit.

RELX gave a tepid forecast for the remainder of 2021. In the first half of the year, Reed Exhibitions held 87 face-to-face events, mostly in China and Japan, and more recently in the U.S. RELX said that, while reaction to the events has been “generally been positive, regulatory restrictions on the size and scope of many of these events have limited the revenue opportunity.”

RELX said it is managing the remainder of its 2021 event schedule flexibly as it monitors local government policies, and acknowledged that most of the events that take place this year “are likely to experience some revenue attrition compared to previous editions.” How fast Reed Exhibitions, parent company of the London Book Fair and the retired BookExpo, will fare for the rest of 2021 “will depend on the pace and sequence of reopening,” RELX said.

The exhibition group, however, is only one ever-shrinking part of RELX. The company's STM and legal publishing operations, as well as its Risk business, performed well in the first half of the year, lifting adjusted operating profit to £1.0 billion, from £990 million in the first six months of 2020.