Arena chief executive David Walley, managing directors Grahame Muir and Joe O’Neill, sales director Dave Withey and finance director Mike Seaman led a management buyout. They were joined by two non-executive director investors, Greg Lawless and Dermot Divilly – the duo behind the acquisition of finishing touches supplier Well Dressed Tables and 70% of furniture hire firm Spaceworks (Event, January).
Walley, who revealed the intent to sell by Evenser’s majority shareholder Candover exclusively to Event in October, said: “It is important for our customers such as Aintree, Cheltenham and Wimbledon to see visible ownership of Arena and to know that the ethos we have in place will remain under the management team. “I didn’t want to do a straightforward MBO using private equity because it requires short-term returns. By bringing on board investors who have invested on the same terms as the management, we can focus longer-term on product development and European expansion.”
The Arena Group, which has divisions dedicated to temporary structures, seating, hospitality suites and scaffolding, made £3.5m profit last year on £30m turnover. Former director Charles Webb, together with Match Point, acquired the Arena Events division late last year. The core business has focused on product development, which last month also resulted in the launch of a Clearview seating system.
Walley believes Clearview will revolutionise the viewing experience at live events and venues as the system allows sight-lines to be tailored to individual events. “Even 68 rows back on a stand, the optimum C-values (what you can see from your seat) can be achieved and with lower overall stand heights than other systems,” he said. “It is a totally unique British designed and manufactured product and we’re very proud of what can be achieved.”
Walley, an Evenser shareholder, had two paydays last month following the sale of the parent company’s other division, Melville Exhibition and Event Services, and CTS to US-based GES Exposition Services (see below).