Wednesday 26 November 2014

Festival fortunes on the rise as promoter shares €4m dividend

Gordon Deegan

Published 26/06/2014 | 02:30

Laura Whitmore at last year's Electric Picnic
Laura Whitmore at last year's Electric Picnic
Denis Desmond

THE country's most successful concert promoter, Denis Desmond, has added to his fortune by sharing a dividend totalling £3.29m (€4.1m) from his Festival Republic business last year.

Last year, the UK-based Festival Republic staged the sold-out Electric Picnic at Stradbally, Co Laois and new figures for Festival Republic Ltd just lodged with Companies House show that the company recorded a 22pc increase in pre-tax profits last year to £6.15m (€7.4m).

This followed revenues at the firm increasing by 2.6pc from £41.42m (€49.5m) to £42.52m (€51.2m) 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.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Desmond said that Electric Picnic last year enjoyed "a big turnaround, going from substantial loss-making to recording a small profit".

Mr Desmond attributed the successful festival to a very strong line up and attractive ticket pricing.

"The pricing offers great value when you compare $750 for a ticket to Coachella in the US or prices for Glastonbury," he said.

Mr Desmond said that Electric Picnic 2014 is already ahead of sales over last year's event.

"We are on target to sell out earlier than last year," he said, confirming that the 2014 event will be profitable.

The accounts show that 587,493 people attended four events in 2013 compared to 594,129 attending six shows in 2012. Mr Desmond described 2013 as "a very good year" for Festival Republic.

Acts appearing at Festival Republic's festivals this year include Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Beck, Lily Allen, Pet Shops Boys and Chic featuring Nile Rogers.

Tickets for the firm's Electric Picnic Sunday programme and the Reading Festival's Friday and Saturday days have already sold out.

Mr Desmond said that his MCD Productions business in Ireland is performing well this year with gigs like Kanye West expected to hit their target.

A note attached to the accounts states that Festival Republic "has net assets, is profit making and has a considerable cash balance. The company's forecasts project that it will continue to trade profitably and be in a strong liquidity position."

Melvin Benn is Managing Director of Festival Republic Ltd. The figures show that Festival Republic's accumulated profits last year increased to £22.58m (€27m) with the firm's cash increasing from £4.5m (€5.4m) to £5.1m (€6.14m).

The numbers employed by the firm last year increased from 59 to 62 with staff costs last year increasing from £3.2m (€3.85m) to £3.47m (€4.18m).

Last month, Festival Republic reached a settlement with music promoter, John Reynolds and his POD Music Organisation concerning Electric Picnic.

Having founded Electric Picnic in 2004, Mr Reynolds sold a 71pc stake in the event to Festival Republic in 2009 for €4.2m (€5.05m).

As part of the agreement, POD Music has agreed to divest its remaining stake to Festival Republic Dublin.

Irish Independent

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