By  on August 29, 2005

NEW YORK — The MAGIC Marketplace just absorbed two of its key competitors.

Advanstar Communications Inc., owner of MAGIC, has scooped up Project Global Tradeshows and the Pool Trade Show in separate acquisitions that bring into its fold two relatively small, but fast-growing, shows serving the premium, contemporary and streetwear markets. The Project deal closed on Aug. 19, with the Pool purchase following on Aug. 23.

“Our goal is to capitalize on the unique strengths of each event to create a seamless and richer experience for our customers,” said Joe Loggia, president and chief executive of Advanstar.

Terms of the deals were undisclosed, but Loggia characterized the combined price as five times earnings of both purchased companies. Both shows were characterized as “very profitable” by the parties involved.

Loggia emphasized that the “distinctive position, environments and customer relationships” of Project and Pool will be maintained, while services and coordination between the separate shows are strengthened. For example, Advanstar will implement transportation between the various venues — MAGIC previously prevented competing shows from sending shuttles to the Las Vegas Convention Center — and will integrate registration and badging procedures among the shows.

Pool is slated to move to a space adjacent to MAGIC’s home in the LVCC next season, out of its current home in 180,000 square feet of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Project most likely will remain separate from MAGIC in the Venetian.

Both Sam Ben-Avraham and Ronda Walker, the founders and former owners of Project and Pool, respectively, will continue to oversee their shows, while reporting to Loggia. Ben-Avraham retains the title of president of Project — which produces shows in New York and Las Vegas — and Walker is general manager of Pool. Both signed three-year employment contracts with Advanstar.

“This deal allows us to tap Advanstar’s structure, experience and expertise,” said Ben-Avraham. “This partnership will leverage the many synergies between the two companies.”

Ben-Avraham stressed that Project, founded in 2003, will continue to operate largely independently of MAGIC — with the same small staff of five employees, and the same niche focus on premium denim and sportswear brands.

However, one significant change to be implemented is the planned transfer of Project New York to the Jacob Javits Center next January. The show was previously housed in two smaller venues — the Starrett-Lehigh building and the Metropolitan Pavilion.Advanstar — owned by private investment firm DLJ Merchant Banking Partners/Credit Suisse First Boston — is one of the largest trade show and business-to-business publishers in the nation, with a portfolio that includes 55 expositions and conferences, and 55 publications.

Loggia began talks with both Ben-Avraham and Walker early this year. Both show founders cited the increasing organizational and logistical challenges posed by their growing enterprises as factors in their decisions to sell.

This week, Pool is hosting 500 exhibitors at Mandalay Bay, while Project is host to approximately 255 booths at the Venetian. In comparison, MAGIC is Advanstar’s largest trade show — boasting 950,000 square feet of space and more than 2,000 men’s exhibitors. The entire MAGIC Marketplace — which includes WWDMAGIC, MAGIC Kids, Sourcing Zone at MAGIC and fabric@MAGIC — encompasses more than 3,500 vendors.

As reported, Advanstar last month confirmed it is in the process of exploring a possible sale of the company, but Loggia declined to comment further on those efforts.

Advanstar has posted losses over the past three fiscal years, and the company has made efforts to streamline its businesses.

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