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VMS Live acquires the Welly, Hull Box Office

The UK venue/booking company has acquired Hull venues the Welly and the Polar Bear, along with Hull Box Office, which processes 80k+ tickets annually

By Jon Chapple on 11 Oct 2018

Two VMS Live companies enter administration

The Welly in Hull

Fast-growing UK venue management company VMS Live has acquired Hull venues the Welly and the Polar Bear.

The deal sees VMS, run by ex-Academy Music Group/MAMA director Steve Forster, securing the freehold of the 880-capacity Welly and the lease on small bar venue the Polar Bear, as well as the IP of ticketing business Hull Box Office, from former owner Humyne Ltd.

VMS has worked with Humyne for the past three years as venue consultant and event booker for both the Welly and the Polar Bear, as well as developing the Inner City Live series of outdoor events in Hull.

The venues will fall under the operational control of VMS operations director Richard Maides. “The Welly is an institution in Hull and is both a great live and club space,” he comments, “and I feel the Polar Bear is a venue with both great history and massive potential. We intend to develop both venues sympathetically working with the existing staff team to help them bring to life some of the plans they have had in place for some time, particularly in relation to the Polar Bear, where we will be extending the venue to create new toilets and dressing rooms, as well as a new stage area and an increased floor space.

“We are looking to commence the works as soon as possible, with the new venue reopening late January with a new permanent PA and lighting installation as part of the overall improvements.”

“What makes the acquisition really interesting is not just the addition of another two venues to our estate, but also the inclusion of Hull Box Office”

VMS bolstered its venue portfolio in July with the addition of Liverpool Olympia (renamed Eventim Olympia to reflect VMS’s relationship with the eponymous ticketing company) and Lemon Grove in Exeter. Other managed and partner venues include Manchester Academy, the Waterfront in Norwich, Preston Guild Hall and Coventry’s the Copper Rooms.

Forster, VMS MD, comments: I really am pleased that we have managed to get this deal over the line. I have know Humyne owners Dave [Mays] and Andy [Balman] for many years. […] When it became apparent that the Humyne business was potentially up for sale, I declared our interest at the earliest opportunity.

“What makes the acquisition really interesting from a VMS perspective is not just the addition of another two venues to our estate, but also the inclusion of Hull Box Office [HBO]. HBO already sells in excess of 80,000 tickets a year over and above those from the Welly and Polar Bear, these being for other events and venues in Hull and the East Ridings, and we think there is much more growth in this area of the business.

“The plan is to integrate the HBO operation into our VMS tickets platform, provided by Eventim, and use the existing HBO team up there to oversee both ticketing as well as marketing and advertising for all of the VMS businesses. In terms of our overall business and strategy going forward, I firmly believe the Hull venues, as well as the recent acquisition of the William Aston Hall in Wrexham and management contract for the Lemon Grove in Exeter, make VMS a far better balanced business.

“There a few other deals currently in discussion, but after this VMS will enter a period of consolidation and focus on our existing businesses and contracts.”


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