By Scott Wright

EDINBURGH International Conference Centre (EICC) has hailed its move into online events as it unveiled a fifth consecutive year of record profits.

But its hopes for a sixth year of growth have been thrown off course by the coronavirus pandemic, with the continuing lockdown of conferences meaning its doors have been closed since March.

EICC, which is celebrating its 25th birthday this year, reported profits of £1.5 million, up from £1.4m in 2018, with turnover climbing to £12.6m from £11.8m.

The venue, which can accommodate 1,900 delegates at its Lennox Suite, welcomed more than 1,100 people when it hosted the TEDSummit in July of last year. And it was anticipating another record year in 2020 – until the pandemic took hold.

Chief executive Marshall Dallas said: “2019 was our best-ever year, and we came into 2020 with a record number of events on our books before the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to close the venue in March.

“We continue to take bookings for 2021 and have recently secured a number of major conferences for next year, which we will be announcing in the near-future.

“We, of course, remain circumspect about business activity in light of prevailing conditions, however we have focused our efforts on implementing extensive health and wellbeing measures in readiness for safely welcoming delegates back to our venue.”

EICC, which is owned by the City of Edinburgh Council, has moved into the online events market in light of its enforced closure.

In May, it launched a new platform, Make it Edinburgh Live, which allows it to run conferences and events online, or through a combination of virtual and physical attendance.

Around 80 per cent of its employees remain on furlough, and Mr Dallas hopes the reserves built up by EICC’s track record of success in the last five years will mean it will ultimately not have to make any redundancies.

The EICC has 54 full-time and 250 casual staff.

He added: “Our cash reserves won’t last forever, but we are hopeful that this crisis is not going to last forever and we will again be able to get our doors back open and get people back to work.”