VMS – Acquire “The Welly” “Polar Bear” & “Hull Box Office”

Off the back of the recent acquisition of the William Aston Hall in Wrexham, Specialist Music and Venues Company VMS Live announce a series of new additions to their businesses.

VMS are delighted to have concluded negotiations with Humyne Ltd, the long term owners of ‘The Welly, ‘The Polar Bear’ & ‘Hull Box Office’. The deal will see VMS securing the Freehold of the ‘Welly’ as well as the lease of the ‘Polar Bear’ and the IPR of the ticketing business ‘Hull Box Office’.

Having worked with the Humyne for the last 3 years as venue consultants and event bookers for the Welly & Polar Bear. In addition to developing the ‘Inner City Live’ series of outdoor events in Hull. VMS have now concluded a series of deals in relation to acquiring a number of Humyne assets.

Speaking on behalf of VMS, Commercial Director, Carl Bathgate commented. Both Richard and I have a long-standing history with Hull going back to our University days. We have a real connection to the City and hopefully, understand both the history of the venues and the way the City operates. In the last couple of years we have developed the Urban music Festival Inner City Live (3,500 capacity outdoor festival in Zebedee’s Yard a former 16th Century Maritime School Courtyard), as well as working with the Dave Mays and Mark Hall from Humyne in helping them build the live business in the Welly & Polar Bear. When it became clear that the venues as well as Hull Box Office were potentially up for sale, we were interested. It has taken almost a year to get to this point, but we are delighted that we have finally got the deal over the line. There are some great staff already in Hull which we are looking to develop and integrate into the wider VMS organisation.

The Venues will fall under the operational control of VMS Operations Director, Richard Maides. Richard commented, The Welly is an institution in Hull and is both a great live and club space and I feel the Polar Bear is a venue with both great history and massive potential. We intend to develop both venues sympathetically working with the existing staff team to help them bring to life some of the plans they have had in place for some time. Particularly in relation to the Polar Bear, where we will be extending the venue to create new toilets and dressing rooms as well as a new stage area and an increased floor space. We are looking to commence the works as soon as possible with the new venue reopening late January with a new permanent PA & Lighting installation as part of the overall improvements.

Dave Mays (Humyne Director) – said of the sales ‘I am delighted to have managed to conclude a deal with VMS. I am a Hull man through and through and wanted to hand over the reins to a Company we felt we could trust to look after the legacy of The Welly and Polar Bear. We have known the VMS team for some time and feel they will be the perfect guardians of the Venues we have built. From a personal perspective I live in the City and only want the best for the venues and feel VMS can give them the investment and expertise they need to take them to the next level. I have some plans for the future as well and hope to work with the VMS guys on these in the coming months, but I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved to date and happy to pass on the mantle to Steve & his team”.

Discussing the Hull acquisitions as a whole, Steve Forster (VMS Managing Director) commented. I really am pleased that we have managed to get the deal over the line. I have known Dave and Andy (Humyne owners) for many years. Andy Balman as far back as the late 80’s with the original Riverside in Newcastle. Richard & Carl obviously have a close connection to the City and we have worked with the venues for the last couple of years as well as developing the ‘Innercitylive’ concept. When it became apparent that the Humyne business was potentially up for sale, I declared our interest at the earliest opportunity. What makes the acquisition really interesting from a VMS perspective is not just the addition of another 2 venues to our estate, but also the inclusion of Hull Box Office (HBO). HBO already sells in excess of 80,000 tickets a year over and above those from the Welly & Polar Bear. These being for other events and venues in Hull and the East Ridings and we think there is much more growth in this area of the business. The plan is to integrate the HBO operation into our VMS tickets platform (provided by Eventim) and use the existing HBO team up there to oversee both ticketing as well as Marketing/Advertising for all of the VMS businesses.

In terms of our overall business and strategy going forward I firmly believe, The Hull venues as well as the recent acquisition of the William Aston Hall in Wrexham and management contract for the Lemon Grove in Exeter make VMS a far better balanced business. There a few other deals currently in discussion but after this VMS will enter a period of consolidation and focus on our existing businesses and contracts.

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