35 years of ‘extraordinary’ evolution

By Alex Cosham, Image Experiential.
Walking the tightrope of change has become crucial to the survival of many businesses across Norfolk, not least those in hospitality, events and retail.

Published in UK Director Magazines Spring 24

Sharing Experience:
Alex Cosham, Image Experiential

In 2023, we celebrated 35 years as a family-run business and it was one of our most successful years to date. It was also the first with myself in post as managing director, taking over the mantle from my father Iain Cosham after 34 ‘eventful’ years.

From Local to Global

Originally set up in 1989 as Image Display & Graphics, the business worked out of a small Norwich office and a couple of garages dotted around Dereham, Norfolk. We quickly expanded to operate at events across the globe, becoming known for creative, quirky, high-quality displays.

Change has always featured in our history, with digital print, diluted display markets and even the advent of the internet, just some of the external forces shaping what we do today. However, none would have the stark impact of Covid in 2020, which prompted one of the biggest changes for us as a business in our 35 years.

Surviving Covid

Almost overnight, we saw a year’s worth of our events disappear; at that point we knew it was a matter of survival mode kicking in. So, we became Image Garden Rooms, to engage our production team and launched our brand consultancy, Image Development, to support other businesses with the enforced changes Covid demanded.

The ‘pivot’ to Image Garden Rooms granted the business a lifeline. As a father-son team, we navigated a new sector and disruption to the supply chain. We also adapted production, moving from business in event venues to personal projects in people’s back gardens.

Expect the Extraordinary

On reflection, what we achieved then was nothing short of extraordinary, not that any of us would choose to repeat it! But it also got us thinking about how much potential there was for our business as the Covid cloud lifted. It was our core of creativity, production capability and marketing insight that really allowed us to survive.

A Fresh Look

With 2023 global event revenues reaching 97% of 2019 levels (UFI, Global Barometer – July 2023), we embraced this resurgence. Now that we are reporting strong revenues and profitability, we’ve undergone our brand refresh as Image Experiential and established business plans that enable us to take an ambitious turn into a new generation of events.

Having taken over at the same age my dad was when he founded Image, it feels pretty meaningful. There’s so much extraordinary wealth in what we have done, we’ll hold onto that. But just as we didn’t stand still when Iain started out in 1989, we definitely won’t be now. Becoming Image Experiential ready for 2024 feels like the right step, combining a little old, with a little new, as we prepare for more extraordinary yet to come.

Main image shows: Image Experiential designed and built an exhibition stand for Norfolk-based business and long-term client Natures Menu at Crufts.

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Get in Touch

Alex Cosham is Managing Director of Image Experiential and Brand Consultant at Image Development.

T: 01603 408105
E:
alexc@image-experiential.co.uk
Or visit www.image-experiential.co.uk / www.imagedevelopment.marketing

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