UK Volume 23 Superbrands UK Vol. 23 It has been 160 years since the Royal Agricultural Hall originally opened its doors, but the nowBusiness Design Centre (BDC) is still a place where businesses come to collaborate and grow. Welcoming almost one million visitors a year, the BDC prides itself on its initiatives that prioritise people and planet and its ability to use the company’s platform for good Market Whilst impacted heavily in recent years, the event industry is making its return to pre-pandemic activity as a key contributor to the UK economy, which generated £70bn and employed over 700,000 people. Business Design Centre (BDC) also operates in a unique position as a trade centre, welcoming not only hundreds of meetings, conferences and exhibitions each year but is also currently home to over 150 permanent showroom and office spaces. Its story began in 1986, when the former Royal Agricultural Hall was reopened, following years of restoration, into its current business model as the BDC. The venue’s initial concept was to create a collaborative environment for design companies and events to network and grow their businesses under one roof. This purpose has largely diversified over the years and now welcomes an expansive portfolio of events and residents from across a range of various sectors. Product Based in the heart of the London Borough of Islington, the Grade II listed venue has over 6,000 sq m of conference and exhibition space and a maximum capacity of 5,300 people, welcoming upwards of 900,000 guests a year. Its multi-award winning team have over 150 years of combined event management experience and work alongside events, some of which have remained at the venue since 1987. As well as its impressive barrel-vaulted mezzanine space, the venue also benefits from a large and flexible conference centre that runs alongside the main hall. In addition, the BDC has a large on site car park, Hilton hotel, gym and two restaurants as well as being positioned in a prime location on vibrant Upper Street. The range of showrooms, studios and office spaces that surround the perimeter of the main hall, benefit from the significant footfall from the events held. Across the building, these spaces are home to businesses ranging from start-ups and hybrid teams to tech companies, banking, fitness and industry leading design companies. Over 25% of the businesses that call the BDC home have been based within the building for over 10 years. Achievements In recent years, the BDC has won many industry awards for its team, the venue as well as numerous initiatives. Most notably at the Exhibition News Awards for Best Employer (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015), the ECO Award (2016), the CSR Award (2018 & 2019), Best Venue under 8,000 sq m (2019), Company Culture (2020) and the ESG Award (2022). The conference side of the business equally has been recognised at the Conference Venue & Supplier Awards as Best Venue Customer Service (2013, 2016, 2017), Best Mid-Size Conference Venue (2014) and the Sustainability Bronze Award (2020). At a wider industry level the BDC has received AEO Excellence Awards for Venue Team of the Year (2013 & 2016) and Venue of the Year <20,000 sq m (2019 & 2020) as well as the ESSA Venue of the Year (2021). Recent Developments Having been a certified CarbonNeutral® venue since 2010, under the CarbonNeutral® Protocol the BDC has been working on continuous reductions and improvements in tackling the Company’s environmental impact. In 2022, the business signed the Net Zero Carbon Pledge created by members of the industry following COP26 and launched its commitment to reaching net zero before 2030. The BDC has reduced its carbon footprint by 66.7% since 2019 and development plans are underway for the investment required in coming years to meet the net zero target. The venue also submitted its initial assessment to B Corp in 2022, taking the next steps in focusing holistically on its sustainability goals. The business has always focused on supporting its people, the community it serves as well as the environment and the BDC Management strongly believes that this is the best way to take the business forward in these areas. Promotion The BDC has seen structured investment and a focused strategy in its promotional activities During the 2012 Olympics a double decker bus doing push ups, designed by Czech artist David Cerny, was installed outside the venue DID YOU KNOW?