Quick interview: Olympia's new era

In April it was announced that Olympia London had been sold in a colossal £296m deal, EN sits down with the venue’s MD Nigel Nathan to learn more.

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Ajoint venture of institutional investors, led and advised by Deutsche Finance International (DFI), a global investment firm and part of the Deutsche Finance Group, and Yoo Capital (YC), announced the acquisition of Olympia London in April.

 

The historic 130-year old exhibition and events business, which is situated on a 14-acre site in West London and welcomes around 1.6m annually, was sold for £296m.

 

In an exclusive interview, EN catches up with Olympia London managing director Nigel Nathan to learn more about the historic deal.

 

Why was the venue sold, and why now?

 

Capco purchased the Earls Court & Olympia Group with the primary focus to redevelop Earls Court. They invested more than £30m into the venue over the past 10 years—facilitating the successful transfer of 85 per cent of Earl’s Court’s business.

 

With this period of transition completed, the time was right for Capco to shift their focus back to their core business, so it came as no great surprise that they looked to sell.

 

They conducted a sales process that was both careful and considered in order to secure a new long-term partner for the venue; ensuring Olympia London’s legacy as one of the world’s most iconic event venues lives on.

 

What plans do the new owners have for the venue?

 

It’s still very early days, in fact the 30-day finalisation process only completed in early May, however we are really looking forward to what’s to come. Our new owners saw an opportunity to invest in a piece of London’s history, and have taken the time to fully understand both the business and the event industry.

 

They, like us, value collaboration, and together we’ll be focusing on enhancing and investing in the visitor experience—especially where placemaking, retail, and food and beverage is concerned. In line with this a hotel is also on the cards but, of course, we will only ever make plans that are right for our core business as an event venue.

 

Will anything be changing for organisers, suppliers or visitors?

 

Security and stability. Like I said, we always knew the day would come for Capco to sell us, however our new investors were searching for an established and steady iconic operational business—and they are most definitely in it for the long term.

 

What will the new owners bring to the table?

 

Most importantly, they share our aspiration to become a world-class exhibition and event venue. Now in our second year of a research programme with expert agency, Kantar TNS, we know better than ever before what our clients, exhibitors and visitors want.

 

Armed with this insight, we will be working on a long-term plan that will concentrate efforts on investments that complement the existing business; capitalising on our investor’s expert knowledge in developing retail and food & beverage to enhance both visitor experience and the public realm.

 

We are thrilled to be working alongside a creative, innovative, and design-led group of professionals as we move into the next chapter of Olympia London’s history.

 

What involvement will the new owners have in the day-to-day running of the venue?

 

From the very beginning of this journey they have expressed their respect and admiration for the Olympia London team, and have given full support to our management.

 

This is a unified, collaborative partnership with a view to co-create a shared long-term vision for the business, and we know they are looking forward to the future as much as we are.

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