Monday 22 May 2017

Promoter Desmond shares €26m windfall from UK festival firm

Irish musician Hozier onstage at last year’s Electric Picnic festival
Irish musician Hozier onstage at last year’s Electric Picnic festival

Gordon Deegan

The country's most successful concert promoter, Denis Desmond, has added substantially to his fortune by sharing a dividend totalling £19m (€26.7m) from his Festival Republic business last year.

Last year, Festival Republic staged the sold-out Electric Picnic at Stradbally, Co Laois.

New figures just lodged with Companies House in the UK for its UK arm, Festival Republic Ltd, show that the company recorded an 11pc decrease in pre-tax profits last year to £5.4m (€7.5m). This followed revenues at the firm dipping marginally from £42.52m to £41.95m in the 12 months to the end of December last.

Desmond's Gaiety Investments has a 49.9pc share in Festival Republic with international concert promoters Live Nation owning the remaining shares.

The dividend payout last year is a multiple of the dividend payouts by the firm in recent years - in 2013, the firm paid a dividend of £3.29m and this followed payouts of £2.93m in 2012 and £6.6m in 2011.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Desmond said that 2014 "was a good and healthy year for Festival Republic. We're doing well."

Mr Desmond said the biggest cost increases facing the business are artist fees. "For headline acts, you are talking €1m a night to perform. The bigger demand there is for the artist, the bigger the fee," he said.

Mr Desmond confirmed yesterday that the 2015 Electric Picnic festival has sold out - ten weeks before it is staged.

This compares to the weekend selling out four weeks in advance last year.

The promoter said that Electric Picnic has enjoyed "a great turnaround. It has great acts and is a great event".

He said that the Electric Picnic revenues and profits will appear separately in Festival Republic (Dublin) Ltd accounts to be lodged with the Companies Office here later this year.

Festival Republic in the UK stages the annual Reading and Leeds festivals and last year staged seven shows compared to four in 2013.

Numbers attending the shows last year dropped marginally from 587,493 to 580,653.

Melvin Benn is managing director of Festival Republic Ltd. The figures show that Festival Republic's accumulated profits last year decreased to £8.9m after the dividend pay out with the firm's cash declining from £5.1m to £1.64m.

The remuneration for one unidentified director at Festival Republic totalled £688,104. Numbers employed decreased from 90 to 88 with staff costs totalling £3.38m.

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