The story behind our expansion in the UK and, in a few months, New York!
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.
We are a fast growing challenger brand that loves great customer service, contemporary design, edgy communication and outwitting our larger rivals. However what we’re still really proud of is to have continued our founding principles to do the simple things well, to put service first, to be green where we can and to be that little bit better than everyone else.
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. Millions have been invested in new venues and upgrading and expanding the existing venues, with recent openings focusing more on larger conferences and events with adjacent exhibition space.
With our next investor Growth Capital Partners we continued to grow and finished 2017 with 15 venues. 2018 saw us at our most successful to date, hosting 900,000 delegates and ending with sales of over £60m. Our largest venue, within the iconic County Hall, opened across two floors and offers 65,000 sq. ft. of event space. And we continue to grow in the UK. In November we announced our largest conference space to date, 133 Houndsditch which will have a 700 capacity conference suite and will open near Liverpool Street in Spring 2019.
But we're not just opening new venues in London. Our first venue in Manchester opened to rave reviews, including a visit from the Prime Minister.
As well as expanding rapidly we’ve also scooped our fair share of awards, one of our favourites being the PPA awards where the judge’s remarked "...an incredible and varied portfolio of venues expertly tailored to client's needs, the very professional etc.venues team is an events manager's dream. This is an innovative business model that is reflected in venues that are really moving with the times. An outstanding winner."
Not forgetting our inclusion in the 'Top 10 UK Training Centres', Highly commended 'new event space' for County Hall and MIMA Awards Gold Winners for best use of video marketing, and that was just in 2017! 2018 has seen us pick up our first International award with 'Best Conference Centre' at the US based Stella Awards, as well as success in the 'Best Conference Venue' category at the UK's Conference Awards.
You’d think we’d be satisfied, but we are not, we’re an ambitious bunch! In June 2018 we announced a fantastic new investor in Benchmark, a Global Hospitality Company which will see us build on our UK success story across the pond in New York City. The plan is to open up to six new venues in The Big Apple within the next three years.
Then, after that, globally across the world…