The story behind our continued expansion in London, Birmingham, Manchester and now the US.
etc.venues started life in 1992 when its entrepreneurial founder, 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 really proud of, is that we have maintained 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 in 1992 and was an instant hit – awards poured in and new venues were opened across London. In 2006 Alastair Stewart, backed by private equity firm Dunedin LLP, led the initial management buy out, driving 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.
Alastair received further private equity backing from Growth Capital Partners in 2012 to continue the evolution of the business to 15 venues, hosting 900,000 delegates, including the iconic County Hall (65,000 sqft). But we are not just opening new venues in London. Our first venue in Manchester opened to rave reviews, including a visit from the Prime Minister.
You’d think we’d be satisfied, but we are not, we’re an ambitious bunch! In June 2018 we secured investment from US investors Benchmark and Gencom 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.
We have grand plans in the UK as well...since our most recent investors joined, we have expanded an existing venue in London, opened our largest conference space to date, 133 Houndsditch (near Liverpool Street station with a 700 capacity conference suite) and we announced our latest training and meeting venue at Chancery Lane.
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. Recently, Alastair has qualified as a regional finalist in the 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Next stop, New York!