Event hire sector trends

White marquee in grass field with houses in background

(last updated July 2019)

Factors affecting the event hire sector

Although the event hire business did not suffer as badly as some sectors during the downturn of the late 2000s/early 2010s, there was a decrease in the number of corporate events, leading to a reduction in event hire business. The market returned to growth in 2011, boosted by the Royal Wedding, and continued to grow in 2012, helped by the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.

According to an AMA market research report, the event equipment hire business was estimated to be worth £560 million in 2013 and is expected to grow to £680-700m by 2018. This covers the hire of staging and structures, portable buildings and sanitation (about 50 to 60 per cent of the market), audio-visual, power generation and climate control, interiors, traffic and crowd control, security, signage and portable access solutions and access and other plant hire. The continuing uncertainty over the Brexit negotiations, higher inflation, weakening growth of real wages and the loss of consumer confidence in the economy led to low economic growth in 2017 and little change is expected during 2018 and 2019. This may mean that the estimates for the growth in the event hire market may prove to be overly optimistic. Recognising the adverse effect of economic uncertainty, the Hire Association Europe (HAE) has written to the government to ask to be consulted about the terms of Brexit.

The market is expected to benefit from increased health and safety, security and environmental requirements, producing a steady demand for a range of equipment providing access, waste disposal, hygiene and so on.

The number of weddings taking place each year in the UK is quite significantly lower than it was twenty years ago (although numbers have increased in recent years) but wedding receptions have become larger events, for which marquees and other items are often required. Bear in mind also that the pub sector in the UK has been under pressure for a number of years due mainly to supermarkets selling alcoholic drink for much lower prices and, more recently, the UK-wide smoking ban. Demand from this sector for large screen TVs, small marquees for the beer garden and so on may have fallen as a result.

Event hire is sometimes offered as part of a tool hire business. Over the past few years the tool hire sector has seen an increase in the dominance of large national and regional chains of outlets such as HSS Hire Shops. While this has made things difficult for smaller independent tool hire businesses, it has been less of a problem for businesses specialising in event hire, as the chain stores deal mainly with tool and plant hire. HSS, for example, operates over 200 tool hire shops but during the period that they were involved in event hire, they only operated 6 specialist outlets. These were subsequently sold, although HSS continues to offer a limited range of event items that are available either in-store or through its online service, depending on the size and nature of the item. The last few years have seen the emergence of a growing number of online hire firms.

April 2015 saw the implementation of new Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations. Unlike previous CDM regulations, the new laws apply to the erection of certain temporary structures at events, requiring any event hire businesses which are affected to invest in additional training for their staff, and may also see them somewhat change their role to provide management support to event organisers. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published guidance on the CDM regulations which can be downloaded from their website.

Keep up to date with developments

Trade associations can help you to keep up to date with what is happening in the hire sector. The Hire Association Europe (HAE) represents the interests of all firms involved in hire and rental in the UK and Ireland. The HAE runs a Safehire certification scheme and from 1 January 2018 certification will be a requirement of membership of the association. The association's aim is for SafeHire certification to be included as part of procurement tenders so that major national clients will insist that hirers are SafeHire certified before they can be considered for inclusion on preferred supplier lists. Visit the HAE website for more information.


Trade shows

You will be able to obtain a lot of useful information if you go to a trade show such as the Hire Convention operated by the HAE. You will be able to meet equipment manufacturers, suppliers and importers. The Exhibitions UK website also includes comprehensive information of forthcoming exhibitions.

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