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Eps Scandinavia relocates to Sweden

After more than a decade in Copenhagen, eps has announced the relocation of its Scandinavian business to Motala in Sweden.

The German-headquartered concert infrastructure giant, which also has offices in Poland, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, Australia and the Americas, including a new operation in Canada, says Motala is the “perfect place” for the company’s main Nordic hub, being located centrally to all major Scandinavian cities.

The news follows the appointment of Fredrik Zetterberg, formerly of Stockholm Exhibition Centre and esports firm DreamHack, as CEO of eps Scandinavia in March 2020. He is based in Stockholm, running eps’s Stockholm and Motala facilities, as well as the company as a whole.

With the relocation of the company to Sweden, the co-founder and long-time managing director of eps Scandinavia, Bo Teichert, has left the company.

“I’m excited to start eps in Sweden – we will be able to cater to more clients and new business areas”

“I’m excited to start up eps in Sweden; we will be able to cater to more clients and new business areas where eps hasn’t been before,” comments Zetterberg. “The relocation to Motala makes it possible for us to respond quicker and more agile towards our new and existing clients.”

Okan Tombulca, managing director of the eps group, adds: “I am delighted to welcome Fredrik Zetterberg to our company. He brings a wealth of experience, in-depth knowledge, and an understanding of all aspects of our industry.

“With Fredrik in our team and the strategic relocation of the company, we will be able to better meet the needs of our customers in the growing Scandinavian market. By taking this step, we as the eps group are also consistently proceeding our path of steady growth.”

 


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IPM 13: Don’t Stop Me Now: The consequences of show cancellations

Eps managing director Okan Tombulca introduced the session explaining that, although production-related cancellations were to form the bulk of the panel, the issues thrown up by the coronavirus (Covid-19) were now impossible to ignore.

Two of the panellists were forced to drop out for coronavirus-related reasons, as GMC Events’ Graham MacVoy was called to an emergency meeting and Benjamin Hetzer of FKP Scorpio joined by Skype due to a travel ban.

ASM Global’s Tim Worton said he was “blown away” by the number of reasons for event cancellations nowadays. Worton referred to the “fairly significant” bushfire crisis that gripped Australia until only a few weeks ago. Events including Lost Paradise, Day on the Green and Secret Sounds’ Fall Festival were cancelled due to poor air quality as a result of the fires.

Although not much can be done to prepare for this kind of natural disaster, said Worton, promoters and others have to be aware that cancelling may be the only option.

Hetzer spoke about different kinds of weather-related cancellations, referencing the storms that lead to the axing of Scorpio festival in 2016 and 2017. Hetzer stressed the importance of cooperation between organisers and the authorities in these situations to ensure the safe evacuation of any site.

“We want to work out how to sort things out before getting to that point”

In terms of deciding to call off an event, Martin Goebbels of Miller Insurance Services said insurers have to trust the judgement of production crews, promoters and local authorities. “I would always advise getting insurance as early as possible,” said Goebbels, emphasising that insurance should be used as a backstop, and not relied upon too much. “This is not an insurance panel, but an anti-insurance panel,” said Goebbels. “We want to work out how to sort things out before getting to that point.”

Worton said there is much more emphasis on verifying who goes in through the back door nowadays, as well as security and safety measures in general. “Productions are getting so big and complex, that the potential for problems increases exponentially,” he said.

Delegates from countries in Eastern Europe discussed the variations with health and safety practices in different countries, with issues such as corruption, market size and local regulations affecting events of all sizes.

Talk then turned to coronavirus, which has caused recent show cancellations in Asia, as well as in France, Switzerland and Italy. Tombulca stated the virus is throwing up lots of questions but no answers at the moment.

“It’s such a nuanced subject,” said Worton, referring to the different restrictions on mass gatherings and cancealltions of some shows. The on sales for a number of tours are being pushed back, said Worton, which “looks like it is going to be a recurring theme.”

Tour accountant Mike Donovan spoke from the floor saying that even losing a fraction of shows in a tour has a massive impact on profits. “It’s impossible to say what’s going to happen, but we will likely have a very serious downturn,” he said.

“As an industry, we should set a positive example and not overreact”

ITB agent Steve Zapp said it is very much about approaching the situation on a daily, or even hourly, basis at the moment.

Tombulca asked that if it came to a worst case scenario of shows being stopped for the next six months, who would be prepared? A resounding no came from the room, as different delegates explained that although board-level meetings, new procedures and hygiene standards were being put in place, uncertainty remained high.

“This is an unprecedented worldwide situation,” added Goebbels. Asked how the insurance industry is reacting to coronavirus, Goebbels explained that most UK insurers are excluding coronavirus from cancellation insurance cover from now on, saying that he imagined it would be the same for a lot of insurers elsewhere.

Tombulca wrapped up summarising the effects that coronavirus is having across different sectors of the industry, but shared information from a senior UK medical advisor saying there is “no clear rationale” for closing events to prevent the spread of the virus.

“As an industry, we should set a positive example and not overreact,” said Tombulca, stressing that currently in most countries, such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, no cancellations are being made because of Covid-19. “Let’s hope we can resume normal business soon.”

Tombulca added, “we need to prepare ourselves as much as possible for all potential scenarios, but at the end of the day, people need us and we are a very positive industry – we are working in the best industry of the world and make a lot of people happy every day.”


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Eps appoints new CEO of Scandinavian arm

Event infrastructure supplier eps has expanded its management team, appointing Fredrik Zetterberg as CEO of its Scandinavian division.

Zetterberg joins eps from esports promoter Dreamhack, where he headed up the event operations and logistics department. He previously worked as head of production event technologies and sales at Swedish trade fair organiser Stockholmsmässan.

Bo Teichert, who co-founded eps Scandinavia, will focus on operations and existing customer relationships.

“I am delighted to welcome Fredrik Zetterberg to our eps family,” comments Okan Tombulca, managing director of the eps group, who is among those speaking at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March.

“He brings a wealth of experience, in-depth knowledge, and an understanding of all aspects of our industry. With Zetterberg in our team, we will be able to better meet the needs of our customers in the growing Scandinavian market. By taking this step, we as the eps group are also consistently proceeding our path of steady growth.”

“With Zetterberg in our team, we will be able to better meet the needs of our customers in the growing Scandinavian market”

“We look back on ten successful years and great projects, including Way Out West, Sweden Rock Festival, Bravalla, Lollapalooza Stockholm, Eurovision Song Contest and Ed Sheeran’s concert in Reykjavik,” adds Teichert. “I am pleased to welcome Fredrik Zetterberg as CEO to continue this success story of eps scandinavia.”

Founded in 2010, eps Scandinavia has offices in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as its head offices in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Headquartered in Germany, eps now operates in ten subsidiaries worldwide, including a recently launched Candian division.

Representatives from over 25 countries are attending this year’s IPM, which takes place on the first day of the International Live Music Conference in London. Key issues to be discussed at IPM include event cancellation, the evolution of stage production and expanding markets.

 


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IPM gears up for 13th year

The 2020 edition of the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) is taking place in a week’s time in London, hosted by Rod Laver Arena’s Meagan Walker and featuring representatives from 25 different countries.

Now in its thirteenth year, IPM has established itself as a leading gathering for international production professionals, hosting over 200 of the world’s top production managers; health, safety and security specialists; crewing companies and production suppliers over the years.

Eps CEO Okan Tombulca is heading up a panel on show cancellations, along with panellists Tim Worton (ASM Global), Benjamin Hetzer (FKP Scorpio), Martin Goebbels (Miller Insurance) and Graham MacVoy (GMC Events). The session will look at the many reasons for cancellations of both indoor and outdoor events and the best ways to manage them, using case studies from some recent “successful” event cancellations.

The changing nature of stage production and design will form the focus of a panel chaired by Sportpaleis Group’s Coralie Berael, which will look in particular at how technology has changed show production in recent years. Mark Ager from Tait and Constantin Covaliu from Emagic will join Berael on the panel, along with international production manager Wob Roberts, who is currently working with Sam Smith, having previously served as Robbie Williams’ production manager.

“There is going to be an amazing amount of experience in the room”

IPM delegates will also hear about the challenges of working in expanding markets in a session led by Star Live’s Roger Barrett and featuring Brigitte Fuss of Megaforce, Sanjin Corovic from Production Pool and Helen Smith from Helsprod Ltd.

Grassroots venues will be in the spotlight for the Small Venues: Does size really matter? panel, featuring speakers from the Small Venues Network, Forum Karlin, DDW Music and Eventim Apollo.

Elsewhere in the IPM programme, Carl A H Martin will lead a discussion on the topical Martyn’s Law, representatives from transport company Pieter Smit will broach the issue of sustainable trucking and a yoga session will help delegates to relax.

“The IPM allows us all to talk about what involves the production of live music today,” comments Carl A H Martin, chairman of the IPM Advisory Group.

“We can talk sensibly, safely, internationally and, as always, be ahead of the ‘trends’. Truth is, most of the time we set them…

“If you are not amongst those from 25 countries that have already signed up, visit the website and get to it.”

“Although it is an honour to be producing this event, I wish I could attend as a delegate,” adds IPM producer, Sytske Kamstra. “There is going to be an amazing amount of experience in the room.”

IPM is taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London on Tuesday 3 March, the opening day of the International Live Music Conference.

 


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Nerves of steel: Staging and steel review

Business is booming for the event infrastructure and staging world, with new markets cropping up all over the world and an ever-higher number of shows each year.

However, as designs become more complex, driven by the ambitions and desires of artists and promoters to stand out from the rest, stretched resources and soaring costs are pushing companies to their limits.

As 2020 begins in earnest, IQ talks to major figures in the staging and steel world about the hectic 2019 season, the growing demand for bigger production, the cost of ensuring safety at events and the uncertain future of a post-Brexit Europe.

‘Busy but challenging’
Sebastian Tobie, CEO of Event Europe at global event infrastructure supplier eps, describes 2019 as a “very strong year in Europe.” Major international artists embarked on stadium tours in every country that eps serves, including – but not limited to – the UK, Germany, Italy and countries across Scandinavia.

This year, the supplier has worked on tours for the likes of Rammstein, Muse and Pink, as well as providing infrastructure for all major festival and show promoters in Europe. In the United States, however, business was more pedestrian. “We had the major festivals as usual,” says Tobie, “but from an open-air touring perspective, almost everyone was in Europe.”

Elsewhere, the Middle East is becoming a “stronger and stronger” market for the German company, as countries in the region attempt to secure their place on the international events map. However, navigating uncharted waters can involve unexpected obstacles. Tobie notes that local resources and supply networks are not as strong in Middle Eastern countries as in other markets. “We need to plan much more intensely and prepare to be extremely flexible,” he says, explaining that “surprises” can crop up at any time.

“From an open-air touring perspective, almost everyone was in Europe”

UK-based Brilliant Stages has also enjoyed a busy 2019 so far, working on many “technically challenging” shows for artists including Take That, Spice Girls, Hugh Jackman, Shawn Mendes and Rammstein, as well as events such as Reading and Leeds festivals, Wireless Festival, the Brit Awards and the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend.

The main challenge for the stage manufacturer has been “time and risk management.” The process from interpreting the brief, to setting out a plan in accordance with the technical scope, and finally working with all parties to meet deadlines, remains the most difficult aspect for the Brilliant Stages team.

Figuring out the “whole picture” has proved a challenge for fellow staging company Megaforce, with CEO Michael Brombacher noting the difficulty of co-ordinating materials and staff across all projects. Both “busy and challenging,” 2019 saw Megaforce provide ambitious staging for tours by Phil Collins and Andreas Gabalier, and for festivals including Trondheim Rocks and Firenze Rocks.

UK-based Star Live, the brainchild of events specialist David Walley, perhaps had the busiest year of all, albeit in a very different sense. The result of a merger of four Walley-owned businesses, Star Live officially launched on 1 August as a full-service business for the live industry.

Since its inauguration, Star Live has worked on shows for Spice Girls, Pink, The Who and Stereophonics, as well as for events including British Summer Time in London’s Hyde Park and Download Festival.

“The need for ever-more engaging shows has produced the need for individuality”

In addition to providing staging infrastructure, Star Live now partakes in design and brand activations, enables sponsorship and partnerships, and supplies staff and structures such as ice rinks and grandstand seating. However, the staging aspect remains the most challenging, with “late rigging information” and “ever-shorter venue rentals” causing particular headaches for the team this year.

Staging the impossible
The oft-talked about experience economy continues to ensure the rude health of the live industry and the staging sector is certainly reaping the rewards of this. Yet, the growing penchant for the all-encompassing, hyper-immersive experience is also proving a sticking point for suppliers and stage manufacturers.

“The need for ever-more engaging shows has produced the need for individuality,” explains Brilliant Stages’ senior project manager Alan Carradus. “This is driving the technical design to levels not seen before.”

The company has had to widen supply chains and “really think outside the box” in order to keep up with the demands of the creative brief. Evolution within the industry has also led to the development of new ways of working and of new technology, in addition to considerable site investment, to satisfy both current and future demands.

For Carradus, “the real explosion has been in the use of LED screens and large-format projection systems to enhance shows.”

“Artists want to give fans not only a concert but an experience too”

Megaforce boss Brombacher also notes the predilection for more visual shows, as well as the demand for a higher calibre of audio experience. “The weight of light and sound equipment is increasing and therefore we have to adjust the capacity for heavy loads in the roof and in other constructions,” he explains.

The increasing weight and size of infrastructure has required Germany’s eps to make significant changes in recent years.

“Artists want to give fans not only a concert but an experience too,” says Tobie, “and currently that has a lot to do with the size of production.”

As an infrastructure supplier, this means eps has had to put a lot of work into growing its inventory and decentralising its warehouse network, facilitating easy access to different markets and venues.

All this signifies additional expense but, for Tobie, human resources are the most problematic.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 86 2019, or subscribe to the magazine here

eps establishes Canadian division

Germany’s eps has expanded its international operations with the launch of a new division in Canada.

The Munich-based company, the global leader in temporary event floor and crowd-control products, has appointed Joe Novak as managing director of eps Canada, headquartered in Toronto.

Okan Tombulca, managing director of eps group, says: “We’ve been working in the Canadian market for many years. After numerous requests from our clients to work there directly, we wanted to fulfil their wish. Therefore, I am very pleased that we managed to make this possible and that we founded eps Canada.”

Novak joins from the Rogers Centre/Toronto Blue Jays, and is also founder of Act IV Productions.

“I am delighted to welcome Joe Novak to the eps family,” continues Tombulca. “He has always been passionate about the live entertainment industry and has great knowledge and experience. Joe is the perfect addition to our international eps team and I am looking forward to the start of eps Canada.”

“I am very excited about this groundbreaking opportunity to serve the Canadian market”

“I’ve been collaborating with eps for many years. I am very excited about this groundbreaking opportunity to serve the Canadian market and lead the launch of eps Canada here in Toronto,” adds Novak.

“Having a local presence will enable eps to expertly service all promoters, venues, festivals and special events across Canada.”

The new division will offer a full range of live event infrastructure solutions, including drivable plastic systems, pedestrian pathways, pitch coverings, heavy-duty roadways, security fencing, stage barricades, crowd control solutions and CAD services.

The launch of eps Canada brings eps’s network to ten subsidiaries globally, including its main business in Germany: Canada, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, the US and Brazil.

 


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ILMC launches 2020 edition, adds extra space

Organisers of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) today launched the 2020 edition, which sees a second hotel added and more meeting and networking space than ever before.

The 32nd edition of the invitation-only event will see 1,200 delegates attend the main conference, with around 2,000 professionals at ILMC events across the week in total.

As well as taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel, ILMC’s traditional home, the nearby Baglioni Hotel will be exclusive to ILMC delegates.

“With the top promoters, agents, festivals and venues landing in London from over 60 markets, meeting space is always at a premium,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley. “Adding a second site responds to this increasing demand, gives delegates room to do more business, and allows us to expand our programming.”

“With the top promoters, agents, festivals and venues landing in London from over 60 markets, meeting space is always at a premium”

As well as ILMC itself, satellite events around the main conference include Futures Forum on Friday 6 March which invites an additional delegation of 250 young executives to discuss the future of the business; The Arthur Awards, the live industry’s top awards which takes place on Thursday 5 March; and the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) and Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) on Tuesday 3 March.

Last year’s conference programme included keynotes from Roger Daltrey and Dua Lipa, and guest speaker slots from executives including Klaus-Peter Schulenberg (CTS Eventim), Tim Leiweke (Oak View), Michelle Bernstein (WME), Alex Hardee (Paradigm), Marsha Vlasic (Artist Group Intl.), Steve Lamacq (BBC 6Music), Phil Bowdery (Live Nation) and Bill Silva (Bill Silva Mgmt). The 2020 agenda will be published in January.

Companies supporting ILMC’s 2020 edition include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, CTS Eventim, Integro, MOJO Rental, Showsec, WME, eps, Aiken Promotions, LiveStyled, Universe, Feld Entertainment and Buma Cultuur.

The new website, which invites the world’s top industry players to travel to London for three days of ‘The Game of Live’ with the greatest masterminds in the business, is here.

 


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Melbourne’s Eventfloor joins eps Australia

The Australian arm of global event infrastructure provider eps has acquired Melbourne-based ground protection specialist, Eventfloor.

Established in 2006, Eventfloor offers a range of portable flooring, access roadways and grass and turf protection systems.

Over the past 15 years, the company has held contracts with 30,050-capacity Aami Park stadium, Australian Open Tennis, Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and Victorian Racing Club.

eps managing director Andrew Stone describes Eventfloor as a “strong and reliable business” with a “fantastic local reputation and associated inventory.”

“This merger will not only strengthen eps’s market leadership, it will also bring added value to all customers who will get a broader variety of products and services, with better access to warehousing, inventory, plant and machinery,” comments Stone.

“Being part of eps australia brings our clients considerable advantages”

Eventfloor owner Paul Blackie, who continue to work with eps Australia in a consulting role, says he is “very happy to see Eventfloor go to such a good home.”

“Being part of eps Australia brings our clients considerable advantages,” continues Blackie. “They not only have access to a wide range of flooring systems, but also to other products and services within the eps Australia wheelhouse, such as crowd barriers, seating and detailed CAD planning services.”

In addition to its Australian branch, eps has offices across Europe, in Germany, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Switzerland and the UK, as well as in North and South America.

eps is a long-time part of the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), which returns on Tuesday 3 March 2020.

 


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IPM 12: I Like to Move It, Move It

The ILMC Production Meeting’s (IPM) third panel concerned transport and travel, as the expanding global touring market, miscommunication and short timescales complicate the movement of goods, people and money in an ever-smaller world.

Chair Rick Smith of Rule Out Loud opened the panel speaking of the growth of mega-events, particularly in the EDM sector, meaning that acts and touring festivals are travelling to “countries that were never on the touring map.”

For successful touring, the most important thing is to “manage expectations early on and call on the relevant experts,” said Smith.

International Talent Booking’s Steve Zapp, the first agent to sit on an IPM panel, revealed that agents encounter the same problems surrounding miscommunication and last-minute changes that plague the production industry. “There needs to be conversations between the booking and production sides of tours,” stressed Zapp.

“No-one wants to cancel a show,” added Richard Young of Catapult Productions, explaining that, in times of crisis, it is crucial to have good partners as suppliers. ”It’s important to get everybody on board from very early on,” said Young.

Lester Dales, from Dales and Evans Co Ltd, spoke of the impact of insufficient tax planning. “Pretty much every country has the right to first taxation on a show and the artists’ earnings,” said Dales. Tax can become a huge touring cost for some artists, and “before you know it, there’s no profit left”.

“The most important thing is to manage expectations early on and call on the relevant experts”

Talk turned to the movement of people with Arcadia Spectacular’s Ceri Wade, who spoke of the “duty of care” she has for her team. “It’s about logistics and planning but also your duty of care with people; with timelines this is a huge challenge,” said Wade, who received 12 weeks’ advance notice for the Arcadia New Year’s Eve show in China.

The lack of communication down the line from event promoters to those working on site also proved a main subject of conversation.

“Vendors wait desperately to find out which materials we need for different tours,” said eps Holding Gmbh’s Sebastian Tobie, explaining that his team always plans for multiple scenarios due to lack of information.

Young responded, highlighting the many unpredictable factors that exist early on in the production process: “vendors and crew need to understand that, if they’re going to be engaged earlier, it’s all tentative.”

Smith closed the session urging increased input and cooperation from all agencies involved in the ever-expanding world of touring.

 


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Mike Jefferson joins eps America sales team

Global event infrastructure provider eps has announced a new appointment to its US division, as Mike Jefferson joins the eps America sales department.

Jefferson has over 20 years experience consulting for infrastructure, providing ground protection and installing services nationwide.

According to eps America chief executive, Lee Bauman, Jefferson brings “extraordinary” expertise in ground protection and onsite event services to the team.

“The eps America team is thrilled to have Mike on board. He will help eps America to continue to offer outstanding services for our clients with event infrastructure solutions across North America,” says Bauman.

“The eps America team is thrilled to have Mike on board. He will help eps America to continue to offer outstanding services for our clients”

Jefferson is “excited” about joining the team, commenting: “Eps’s reputation for excellence in event infrastructure is second to none globally and I look forward to contributing to growth and continued development of the North American business.”

eps is an equipment rental company providing event infrastructure such as grandstands, ground and turf protection systems, security gates and mobile sanitary installations.

The company developed its own “flat-foot” stage barrier for Harry Styles’s first solo tour last year.

 


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