Arena Group's former chief acquires ARB Audio & Visual Hire as first part of planned group

A consortium led by David Walley, former chief executive of the Arena Group, and David Harding has acquired Buckinghamshire based ARB Audio & Visual Hire for an undisclosed sum.

David Whalley and David Harding
David Whalley and David Harding

The consortium, named Walley & Harding, purchased ARB, which supplies sound, light, vision and power services to the event industry.

Its clients include major sporting events and venues such as Silverstone, The RFU, Twickenham, and the Lawn Tennis Association.

ARB, which recently demerged from its sister company Piccadilly, currently has 30 staff with a turnover in excess of £4m. All staff will remain with the business.

David Harding is Walley's partner on the deal. He will become company CEO.

Harding has had several senior roles in the event industry including heading up GL's operations at the NEC. ARB's previous owner Bob Boote will also remain with the company and continue to work with his existing client base whilst developing new ones.

The acquisition is the first deal in a strategy to build an event services group and the team are currently looking at a number of further acquisitions. This was reportedly a cash deal and the company will now be fully funded and looking to build on the excellent reputation for service.

"I am delighted to be back in an industry I am so fond of.  Having spent the last two years racing cars and collecting motorcycles I feel it is now time to get back into things, I have really missed the industry and the people," said Walley.  "David Harding will manage the business on a day to day basis, Bob will head up client liaison and my role will be to work on the strategy and identify new opportunities and potential targets."

David Harding added: "I have been talking to David about doing something together since we worked on a project together at Arena. We wanted to wait for the right opportunity and we're certain this is it.  We both have enormous respect for Bob and his team at ARB and feel we can bring much needed financial stability and look forward to taking the business forward."

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