“We wanted people who could invest in our company, who could help us grow it and take it further into new markets"
The story in brief
- Encore was the largest B2B seller of West End theatre tickets
- They wanted to reinforce their position by strategically acquiring a major company selling tickets online to consumers
- Livingbridge helped them strengthen their management team and identified and helped fund the right acquisition
- The consolidated company now dominates the market with a 20% share
“We have enjoyed our partnership with Livingbridge over the last 3 years. We’ve significantly invested in IT and employed expert resource, which has resulted in a 150% increase in sales. The future is very exciting.”
John Wales, Managing Director
Helping a company take centre stage
Encore sells and distributes theatre and attraction tickets. Founded in 2000 by John Wales and Ashley Herman, the company had grown consistently year on year – and by 2010, it was ready to capitalise on, and strengthen its market-leading position.
Encore’s founders chose Livingbridge as their investor, which meant they had the support and encouragement to expand their management team and to make a major strategic acquisition that significantly increased their market share.
Building solid foundations to support big ambitions
John Wales and Ashley Herman had a clear vision for Encore. They had begun as an offline business and had started to develop an online presence, but they knew they needed more scale if they were going to dominate the market.
They wanted an investor who would help them to scale, organically and through acquisition, in the online consumer space. And they wanted an investor who could help them strengthen their management team and support them with strategic decisions - essential for a business that was already becoming stretched but still wanted to grow. Livingbridge fitted the bill.
We began by working with John and Ashley to develop a top tier executive team with the addition of a chairman, a finance director, a CTO and a head of online consumer. The business invested substantially in IT, including new web trading and ticketing platforms, which allowed them to grow rapidly online. Then, in 2011, we helped source the ideal acquisition opportunity in the shape of West End Theatre Bookings. It was a bold and expensive acquisition, but John, Ashley and Livingbridge were all convinced that it was right. It would bring together the two fastest-growing ticket companies in the market and we were all confident that the management team were capable of running the combined businesses.
Our confidence turned out to be well founded. The consolidated company expanded Encore’s scale and reach dramatically, delivering a more streamlined and effective route to multiple markets, and increasing efficiency and ticket yields.
While we were onboard as investors, Encore successfully grew to become the dominant multi-channel distributor and the leading brand in theatre tickets, selling 1 in 5 of all West End Theatre tickets.
“We have been incredibly impressed with Encore’s growth aspirations and continue to see great potential for the business.”
Mark Turner, Livingbridge
Encore founded by John Wales and Ashley Herman
Encore acquires Advanced Box Office
Acquisition of Capital Breaks
Business moves to new offices in Holborn, sales in excess of £40m
Livingbridge invests in Encore in a deal worth in excess of £20m
Encore acquires West End Theatre Bookings
Livingbridge sells to ECI Partners