The etc.venues story
etc.venues started life in 1992 when its entrepreneurial founder Sally Wilton, frustrated by the poor quality of training venues decided she could do better – as with so many success stories, life started very simply with a small hard working team inspired to make a difference.
Our first venue, Avonmouth House, was opened in South London and was an instant hit – awards poured in and new venues were opened across London. By 2006 the business had 6 venues, sales of £9m and an impressive client base of public and private organisations.
All entrepreneurs get itchy feet and in June 2006 Sally handed over to Alastair Stewart who, backed by Dunedin Capital Partners, arrived to lead the next stage of the company’s expansion. The new team got to work quickly with the opening in September 2007 of Dexter House in the City of London. The venue set new standards with its innovative and contemporary design over one floor and has been a big hit with clients to the extent that it has been expanded twice in 2008 and 2010 to become one of London’s largest venues.
A big part of the strategy was to take the business out of London and so we arrived in Birmingham and opened Maple House – a venue so vibrant that it makes the surrounding assortment of venues and hotels look very tired indeed. Surpassing all our expectations for a new business in a new city the venue quickly established itself as one of our best , winning the coveted BDRC UK Conference Venue of the Year Award in 2010. Emboldened by clients telling us they liked what we were doing we decided to expand Maple House just as everyone else shouted “recession”.
Over £10m has been invested since 2006 in new venues and upgrading and expanding the existing venues. Venues have been expanded and improved to attract a wider range of clients with recent opening focussing more on larger conferences and events with adjacent exhibition space.
Whilst our rivals cut back on investment and staff during the recession we put service first, increasing the size of our team – we are proud to have been amongst the leading group in BDRC’s Venue Verdict and were named the best Mid Sized Group in January 2012 as judged by our clients against 200 other venues in the UK.
We’ve grown to 12 venues and in the last year alone have increased our sales by 25% - but what we’re really proud of is to have continued Sally’s founding principles to do the simple things well, to put service first, to be green in all we do and to be that little bit better than everyone else.
The story continues....