“In 1986 the building re-opened, combining the American concept of the Trade Mart with the building's historic role as a conference & exhibition centre”
The Business Design Centre Group (BDC Group) was founded in 1954. Today it is still a majority-owned family business, chaired by Jack Morris, the youngest of five brothers who are the principal shareholders in the business. The Group's activities include operation of the Business Design Centre (BDC) and the onsite Upper Street Car Park (USCP).
During the 1960's and 1970's, the Group's core trading activity was manufacturing and commercial property investment. In the early 1980's, the Group diversified its business when it acquired the famous Victorian Islington landmark, the Royal Agricultural Hall or 'The Aggie'.
Sam Morris, the founder of the BDC Group, identified the potential of the building and rescued it from demolition in 1984. In 1986, after a dramatic re-development, the building re-opened, combining the American concept of the Trade Mart with the building's historic role as an exhibition and conference centre.
'The Aggie' was re-branded as the Business Design Centre and became Europe's first integrated Trade and Exhibition Centre. In the same year Upper Street Events was created. It was developed to create a portfolio of events to compliment the array of showrooms residing in the building and to drive greater numbers of visitors to the venue. Upper Street Events was acquired as part of a management buyout in 2014 and now operates as an independent organiser running numerous events, including several high profile exhibitions at the BDC, including the London Art Fair, Country Living Christmas Fair and New Designers.
For the next thirteen years, the Group concentrated on developing the BDC, then adding further conference and exhibition facilities, as well as the adjacent hotel, and building its reputation as one of the most innovative businesses in the exhibition market by setting new standards in environmental quality and service.
The reputation of the BDC was key to the Morris Family's success in acquiring the Earls Court and Olympia Group from P&O in 1999. After five successful years the family sold EC and O.
Dominic Jones is Chief Executive of both the BDC Group and BDC. He started working at the BDC in 1991, went on to become Head of Marketing for Upper Street Events and then Sales Director before becoming Chief Executive of the BDC and Group in 1999 and 2005 respectively.
Other companies owned by the Morris Family include City North Islington Holdings Ltd. (urban regeneration).