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Coronavirus: Numerous UK venues close in single day

A number of UK venues declared they were closing for good today, as the insolvency of two companies making up UK event and venue management specialist VMS Live leads to the shuttering of Hull venues the Welly and the Polar Bear, and Mission Mars-operated Gorilla and Deaf Institute in Manchester also announce permanent closures.

Hull Live reports that VMS CEO Bert van Horck and non-executive director Kate Forster yesterday (15 July) transferred their authority as directors for the VMS Live companies VMS Live (2011) Ltd and VMS Live (Venues) Ltd, with the expected loss of 20 full-time jobs..

As a result of the insolvencies of the two companies, Hull venues the Welly (600-cap.) and the Polar Bear (200-cap.), which VMS took on in 2018, as well as ticketing outlet Hull Box Office, are closing down.

The remaining four VMS Live companies, which operate/book venues including Eventim Olympia Liverpool (1,960-cap.), Asylum in Hull (1,100-cap.) and the William Aston Hall in Wrexham (1,200-cap.), will continue to operate as before.

“I am deeply saddened that we had to make this decision, following the completion of the yearly accounts, the announcements of the government and the bank reconciliation, which lead us to be at immediate risk of trading whilst insolvent,” comments van Horck, who has served as CEO of the company since 2019.

“I am deeply saddened that we had to make this decision”

“I would like to thank all of our staff on behalf of Kate and I for the magnificent efforts made to try and save these two companies, both between September and March during normal trading and beyond into the Covid-19 enforced closure.”

The news comes as two other well-loved UK venues, Mission Mars-operated Gorilla (600-cap.) and Deaf Institute (260-cap.) in Manchester, close under the pressure of Covid-19.

“The Deaf Institute and Gorilla have been at the forefront of the music scene in Manchester for many years and it is with great sadness that we announce that we will not be reopening,” says Mission Mars CEO Roy Ellis.

“This difficult decision has been made against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the enforced closure of all of our sites and with continued restrictions upon opening of live music venues.

“We appreciate that these music destinations are well loved and have provided an early stage for many acts in the North West and are therefore well known in the world of music.

“We would encourage any industry and music entrepreneurs who might be interested in this as an opportunity to please get in touch.”

 


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VMS Live expands team in new London office

UK-based promoter and venue operator VMS Live has hired three new team members in its London office, which opened late last year.

Former Mean Fiddler general manager James Gall is joining VMS Live as southern manager and acting head of venues, taking responsibility for all VMS Live venue operations and venue management teams.

Gall states his aim is “to improve efficiency of management systems”, “ensure health and safety compliance”, and create “bespoke marketing to help drive shows”.

Also joining the London office is graphic designer Filippos Saltsidis, who brings experience from working for agencies, media companies and as a freelance designer in countries including Greece and Germany. Saltsidis will act as the main graphic designer in the VMS Live marketing department.

The final addition to the team is Yara Magarino, who joins as a marketing executive, having previously worked for festival discovery and travel platform Festicket.

“Establishing a central team in London is a key part for VMS Live in supporting our nationwide network of venues”

Magarino has also worked as an assistant brand and product manager at PlayStation, Pernod Ricard and Grupo Planeta.

“Establishing a central team in London is a key part for VMS Live in supporting our nationwide network of venues,” comments CEO Bert Van Horck.

“These three people combine experience and youthful talent and I’m confident we are well positioned to provide our clients with enhanced promotional, operational and marketing support.”

Founded in 2007 by the late Steve Forster, VMS Live operates and/or books mid-size UK venues including Eventim Olympia Liverpool (1,960-cap.), Asylum in Hull (1,100-cap.) and the William Aston Hall in Wrexham (1,200-cap.), and counts Eventim UK, the local arm of Germany’s CTS Eventim, among its clients.

The company is promoting upcoming tours by 808 State and Grand Magnus, as well as promoting dates by Jools Holland and Milton Jones.

 


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VMS Live to open London office, launch marketing arm

Independent British promoter and venue operator VMS Live is making changes to its business model, opening a central London office and creating a new marketing division.

Founded in 2007 by the late Steve Forster, VMS Live operates and/or books mid-size UK venues including Eventim Olympia Liverpool (1,960-cap.), Asylum in Hull (1,100-cap.) and the William Aston Hall in Wrexham (1,200-cap.), and counts Eventim UK, the local arm of Germany’s CTS Eventim, among its clients.

Following the appointment of Bert Van Horck as CEO in September, VMS is undergoing changes to improve customer service and enhance marketing support for venues.

From 6 January 2020, VMS’s booking, ticketing, marketing and music divisions will operate out of a new office in King’s Cross, London, headed by High Voltage festival promoter Abbie Marshall. Central services such as finance and HR will also be based out of the London office.

“To align our aims and those of our clients, we will invest in new systems, and a new office, and create a new marketing department”

The company has also hired Ioana Mosteanu, who formerly worked on music brand partnerships at Red Bull, and digital marketing and design specialist Yara Magarino to work in its newly created marketing division. Mosteanu will also take charge of the ticketing department.

VMS’s former operations assistant, Aoife Niblock, will take on the role of northern regional manager, supervising VMS venues in Wrexham, Liverpool and Hull.

“We have taken a very close look at the heart of the company and consulted with the great team of people working here and fantastic clients to make some well-informed, bold decisions,” comments Van Horck.

“To align our aims and those of our clients, we will invest in new systems, and a new office, and create a new marketing department, for which we have appointed two marketeers.

“This signals our ambitions to help our clients grow their businesses and expand our portfolio of venues.”

 


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Bert Van Horck succeeds late Steve Forster at VMS Live

Multifaceted UK venue management outfit VMS Live has appointed Bert Van Horck as CEO, effective 21 September.

Van Horck – whose CV includes producing stadium shows by Shakira and Depeche Mode, as well as major sporting events such as the Baku 2015 European Olympics and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – succeeds VMS founder Steve Forster, who passed away earlier this year.

Forster’s widow, Kate, also joins the VMS Live as a non-executive director.

She comments: “I am focusing on the opportunity to preserve and continue to grow the legacy of my late husband. This is the appropriate time to extend a huge ‘thank you’ all the staff, suppliers, clients and other stakeholders who all contributed to keeping VMS Live running over the difficult past five months.

“Bert has a unique track record in the event industry, including promoting and producing live entertainment and starting up venues, and I am looking forward to working with him to take the company forward.”

“Bert has a unique track record, including promoting and producing live entertainment and starting up venues”

Van Horck’s other experience includes serving as CEO of event crowd management specialist ICMS, trading as Showsec in the UK, and managing director of De Boer Structures UK.

“VMS Live is in a great space in this dynamic sector, and I am very much looking to working with the new team to build on the incredible foundations and legacy Steve Forster, Richard Maides and Carl Bathgate have put in place.

“We’d also like to give special thanks to Richard and Carl, who led the company over this difficult recent period. Both have now resigned following a transfer of their duties.

“The company is grateful for their long-standing service and contribution to its growth, particularly their special efforts over these five last months. They played a major part in developing the USPs which make VMS Live such a unique group of companies, blending venue management, promoting and ticketing into a one-stop-shop entertainment organisation.”

VMS’s venues include the Welly in Hull, the Foundry in Sheffield, the Waterfront in Norwich, Brixton Electric in London, the Lemon Grove in Exeter and the Eventim Olympia in Liverpool.

 


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