The National Restaurant Association will no longer manage or own its annual convention, commonly called the Restaurant Show. In what the Association describes is an "equity partnership," control of the huge meeting, held each May in Chicago, shifts in 2019 to Winsight LLC.
The Chicago-based information service company and publisher of Restaurant Business already owns a handful of foodservice-related meetings, including the annual Restaurant Leadership Conference. It is also the owner of foodservice research firm Technomic.
The trade magazine becomes the NRA’s official house-organ in the deal, according to a press release. "The new relationship with Restaurant Business gives us an additional avenue to expand and amplify the stories important to the industry and our members," said NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney in a prepared statement.
An NRA spokesperson said officials were not available for interviews prior to the announcement. Neither Winsight officials nor editors for the industry publication returned calls seeking comment.
The announcement added the agreement gives Winsight "exclusive branding, content, and promotion of the Show" for the next 45 years. In turn, the association has an advisory seat on Winsight’s board of directors. Mary Pat Heftman, who managed the Restaurant Show for the NRA, was named President of Winsight’s Restaurant Show Group.
The Restaurant Show, which last year attracted 65,000 attendees, is a lucrative event. In 2016 (the latest year for which figures are available) revenues totaled $29,360,000, according to IRS Form 990. Former Technomic executive Darren Tristano said gross profit margins for trade shows can reach 40 percent.
Winsight is an arm of Pamlico Capital, a Charlotte, NC.-based private equity firm that recapitalized the company in 2017 along with existing management.