ASB Showgrounds: Making the numbers matter
By Hayes Knight - 27 October 2016
One of Auckland’s premier events venues, ASB Showgrounds operates as a not-for-profit organisation, providing a top-class community facility and bringing significant revenue to the city.
It's been an important community asset for over 100 years, but
the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane continues to flourish, hosting
multiple large-scale local and international events, attracting
around 1.1 million visitors a year, and injecting an estimated $22
million into the Auckland economy.
The iconic exhibition space, formerly known as the Auckland
Showgrounds, has facilities flexible enough to host exhibitions,
trade and consumer shows, cocktail functions, banquets, corporate
events, conferences, meetings, concerts and even stock-clearance
A 1970 Act of Parliament amalgamated the A & P Association
of Auckland and the Auckland Manufacturers Association
(now the EMA) to form the Auckland Agricultural and Industrial
Shows Board. It now owns the facilities and operates the ASB
Showgrounds on land rented from the Cornwall Park Trust.
ASB Showgrounds CEO Mark Frankham says that as a not-for-profit,
the organisation's mandate is to provide a community facility and
to give back to the community.
"Everything we make is reinvested into running and developing
the facilities. The venue and our customers are our number one
goal. We run a very lean organisation, with just 18 fulltime
In addition to its commercial events, the Showgrounds provides
free facilities for charitable and community organisations, such as
the police for bomb squad training, ambulance services, and sports
and school groups.
In 2006, ASB Bank became the Showgrounds' first ever naming
rights sponsor. Three years later a much needed $32 million upgrade
included construction of a new 6000m2 pavilion and improvements to
the Logan Campbell Centre, funded partly by contributions from the
New Zealand Government, the ASB Community Trust, ASB Bank and
Auckland City Council.
"The redevelopment was about futureproofing our spaces and
facilities. It's been very successful - it's led to increased
business and attracted more high-profile international events,"
says Mark. "In the last eight years, exhibitor numbers have grown
considerably. Average utilisation is around 65%; and up to 85% in
"We're a top-class facility with a AAA health and safety rating
and our focus is on delivery and operations. We're now looking at a
further redevelopment, extending our existing building, improved
air conditioning, creating a new turnaround area - that's all
really important moving forward."
Keeping track of the numbers
In August 2011, ASB Showgrounds brought in Hayes Knight to
manage its financial requirements. Mark now works closely with Nicola
Pollard and Tristan
Dean. Their role initially involved assistance with basic tax
compliance, GST, preparation of monthly accounts and
reconciliations, but Nicola says that has expanded as the business
In late 2014, Hayes Knight began offering ASB Showgrounds a
customised board report pack that combines basic financial
information with more technical details and KPIs.
"It gives the board really powerful information to make
decisions, track how things are going, and understand the drivers
behind their business," explains Nicola. "Sometimes having an
independent view helps you identify areas for improvement, evaluate
where you're leaking cash and see where it's worth spending
Capturing information around usage of its various spaces and
halls was an important requirement for ASB Showgrounds, she says.
Having previously worked at London's Wembley Stadium, Nicola has
experience in the specialist area of event-based reporting, so was
well placed to assist.
"The Logan Campbell Centre is a particularly large space…the
board wanted to see utilisation for that centre reported
separately, so we devised a measure with graphs comparing it to
previous years," says Nicola.
Mark mentions that the board report pack is particularly
valuable in terms of time-saving and the clear presentation of
The report pack can evolve over time as the requirements of the
board changes. Mark and Hayes Knight have also recently developed a
new report to look at the Royal Easter Show as a standalone event,
which has been added to the report pack to track the impact it has
had on the Showgrounds' financial results.
"We have directors from many different companies, some with more
accounting knowledge than others. The board report pack combines
all our critical information into one document that everyone can
understand," Mark says. "I used to spend six full days pulling it
all together before every board meeting. When it was such a manual
job, it was easy to make mistakes. Now we've automated and
restructured it all, which frees up my time to concentrate on the
Having met with the board to understand the information they
required, Nicola and Tristan customised the report pack accordingly
and presented it back to them.
"It's a service we are keen to offer to more of our clients,"
says Tristan. "We can take what their processing staff have done
and put it together into a nice visual document that the board will
find useful and relevant."
ASB Showgrounds in numbers
18,000m2 event and exhibition
11 separate spaces
5,000 seating for banquets
3,000 seat theatre
$32 million cost of most recent facility
80+ events hosted in 2016
130,000 visitors to Royal Easter Show in
650,000 visitors attracted to Auckland for the
venue's top 14 events in 2015
78,100 visitor nights generated as a result
$22.41 million increase in regional output from
these 14 events
$17.48 million contribution to Auckland's
Showgrounds CEO Mark Frankham