Thursday 23 October 2014

Electric Picnic brand damaged by band choices, founder tells court

Laura Butler and Tim Healy

Published 09/04/2013 | 05:00

Electric Picnic founder John Reynolds

IT is the boutique festival enjoyed by revellers for its unique line-up with equal emphasis on food and the arts since 2004.

But its founder John Reynolds has claimed that Electric Picnic majority shareholder, the Festival Republic Dublin (FRD) Group, is pursuing a "one-size-fits-all" policy for its events, which is damaging the Picnic's diverse personality.

It was one of a series of claims heard in the Commercial Court yesterday.

In proceedings under Section 205 of the Companies Acts, music promoter Reynolds has alleged that he was excluded from involvement in managing the festival and effectively removed from "any meaningful role" in the decision process when it came to the acts.

He is insisting that the American band, The Killers, was brought in as a joint headliner at last year's event in Stradbally, Co Laois, against his wishes and said that the group was added to the line-up in 2012 because the FRD Group needed the band for its Berlin festival a week later.

And Reynolds, whose POD Music Ltd company has brought proceedings against FRD, believes that the two-day extravaganza's trading loss last year was down to band selection.

Melvin Benn, managing director of FRD, has argued against Mr Reynolds' allegations.

FRD bought a 71pc stake in EP Festivals Ltd for €4.2m in 2009, as it needed outside investment.

Mr Benn, who stressed that he has been promoting unique festivals since 1979, told the court that the Electric Picnic suffered losses because tickets were too pricey for festival- goers.

His company plans to reduce ticket costs for the upcoming event, scheduled for August 31 and September 1.

Mr Benn insisted that Mr Reynolds decided to opt out of running the festival but accepted Mr Reynolds had not been properly included in relation to some offers made to bands.

Intentions

However, he did say that FRD made intentions clear four years ago when it invested in EP Festivals Ltd that the company intended to take "a light touch" regarding its operation.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly agreed yesterday to transfer the case to the Commercial Court but, on consent of both sides, adjourned it for further directions to allow for mediation.

Mr Reynolds and Mr Benn, of Twickenham, Middlesex, England are directors of EP Festivals Ltd while Selena Holliday Emeny, Surrey, England, is company secretary.

Irish Independent

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