Lyrical has achieved its founder’s early ambitions, moving from printed magazines to a high-growth digital media business, whilst scaling large exhibitions.

“A lot of people think ‘you're an entrepreneur, you're building your business, you've got all the answers’. That’s very rarely the case. You need people to question why you're doing something and you need the encouragement of someone saying you can do it.”

Eoin McManus, Founder and CEO, Lyrical Communications

From a magazine to a media brand

Lyrical Communications connects and informs professionals who install, maintain, buy and manufacture technology that provides buildings with heat, water, air and energy online and at its industry-leading trade event, The InstallerSHOW.
Lyrical’s Founder and CEO Eoin McManus began working in the UK heating and plumbing sector 30 years ago. Initially working as the editor of ‘The Installer’ at a contract publisher, he bought the magazine from CORGI (Council of Registered Gas Installers).
“When I first took over the magazine, I was literally doing it in my front room,” says Eoin. “I essentially bought a magazine and a URL. The website didn't really exist, but in my mind, if this was going to be a viable business I had to create ‘The Installer’ as a media brand that was not just a magazine.”
With the addition of a website and seminars, ‘The Installer’ maintained its market position. Eoin opened an office, built a team and in 2015, when one of his customers said they would be interested in supporting an exhibition specifically for installers, launched The InstallerSHOW.

Ticking over

The show started well, but growth was slow and there were no re-bookings. Eoin says the sales manager for the event was happy for it to tick over. “He told me that he didn’t do re-books. At the time I didn’t question it, because I didn’t know.”
Eoin came to realise the sales team just wasn't ambitious enough for the brand. Pre-COVID, The InstallerSHOW took just under £600,000 and the feeling among the sales staff was that it had reached its ceiling. “That same show is now at over £6 million, so clearly we hadn’t.”
Eoin reached out to Collingwood for advice and support on how to go from lifestyle business to a valuable Scaleup. The starting point was understanding the capabilities required in the business, and how the team would need to evolve to be one that shared Eoin’s ambition. 

Unlocking potential

With Collingwood’s support, one of the first moves Eoin made was to bring in Mike Costain, now Lyrical’s MD. “Mike came on as Sales Director, but I felt the time would come when I would step back and Mike would become MD. I was quite happy with that.”
Eoin says Mike has changed the business beyond recognition. “I love change. It's a great thing, although it's ironic that I would say that given that I was sitting on a business that was stagnating for so long.”
Collingwood helped Eoin and Mike build a growth plan that was underpinned by data and insight. Defining and breaking down Lyrical’s market opportunities, customer value propositions, and commercial strategy, the team had clear goals and plans to achieve them.

Letting go of print

Along with revitalising the management and sales team, Collingwood helped Lyrical transition out of print and into a fully integrated digital media platform.
“If you're going to get rid of your main media platform, what do you replace it with?” says Eoin. “We were able to justify, and communicate, the direction we were going in. When we were sending out magazines six times a year, you heard from us every two months. Online, you hear from us every day.”
Eoin explains that, before he began working with Collingwood in 2019, there was no long-term business plan. “If an idea came to my head, I would do it, but it wasn't written down anywhere.” Very quickly, however, Lyrical’s legacy print revenue stream had been transitioned to a scalable digital media platform and The InstallerSHOW had moved into the largest halls in the UK’s NEC
The changes in the business sparked interest in the market and just two-and-a-half years into the three-year partnership with Collingwood, Eoin began to receive interest fromng prospective buyers. “The story was strong enough on its own at that stage to take us forward,” Eoin says.
Collingwood helped Eoin and Mike to explore and understand their options to sell the business, and later ran a formal process and led the sale of Lyrical to Nineteen Group in 2022. “We knew there was so much more potential in the business. We just needed to find a way to unlock it. Collingwood made it a reality and gave us the confidence to make it work.”

“There was a huge transformation in terms of the business model, going from a printed magazine to a digital media business, and from the event as it was to a large-scale trade show. It was such a pleasure to work with the Lyrical team to help them go further, faster, and bigger. They achieved a truly remarkable result in a short period of time”

Daniel Pitchford, CEO, Collingwood Advisory
“Lyrical brought Collingwood in to help transform the business and its people,” says Daniel Pitchford. Over the course of that journey, Lyrical transitioned its low-margin, low-growth magazine and events business to a high-margin, high-growth digital media and tradeshow platform.
“Eoin and Mike have created a business and a team that now fully meets the diverse needs of their audience, ensuring their continued rapid growth and leading position in the market," says Collingwood Chairman, Julian Graves. "Lyrical represents the kind of business Collingwood supports - ambitious leaders, open to change and seeking to really unlock potential to create and realise value. I’m honoured that Collingwood played a part in achieving the Founder’s goals.”
The development of an expansion strategy for Lyrical’s InstallerSHOW accelerated growth and built a defensible, market-leading position. This has seen the event expand beyond the biggest hall in the UK’s NEC and led to a 130%+ onsite rebooking rate.
Growth of the event and the move from print advertising to an integrated digital media offering has contributed to revenue growth of more than 400% over the last 5 years, with a high-growth sales and marketing strategy expanding market share. A compelling investment narrative and increased enterprise value led to a successful sale to Nineteen Group in 2022.