The European Meetings and Congress industry suffered a major blow following the default and bankruptcy of the global PCO Congrex Earlier in October 2013, the Sweden branch filed for bankruptcy, with a trustee looking to transfer part or all of the operations “in another direction.” Since then, the entire Sweden team was disbanded.
Congrex Holding, the Congrex parent company in Holland, formally defaulted, and rumors suggested that all the companies within the Congrex parent and subsidiary groups face the prospect of bankruptcy. The Amsterdam-based company had previously been granted temporary suspension of payment, but the company has been formally declared bankrupt. A meeting with creditors has been set for 4 December 2013.
In the ensuing split-up, the Congrex UK team has purchased the UK arm of the company and changed the business’ name to Contendam, led by former Congrex CEO, Mr Rob Harrison. The renamed company will reportedly focus on a consultative approach to providing tailored PCO and extended management services to its UK and international association clients. Contendam will retain all of Congrex UK’s existing staff and management team and all client contracts for events will remain with the new ownership.
Other players in the meetings and congress industry noted that the big losers in this situation will be the association clients who have deposited significant congress capital in advance of their events. Similarly, congress centers, hotels and other suppliers will be left holding debts from unpaid services and advanced bookings. According to Scandinavian spokespersons, in Uppsala, Sweden, such suppliers have lost over €1.2 million from medical meetings and congresses during September.
Others have speculated that the scale of the overall bankruptcy could be highly significant with losses of between €10-15 million. Some industry insiders have noted that the situation has pointed out the risk of outdated business models in a much changed meetings industry brought about by global economic conditions.