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Encore Capital announces sale of Stagecoach

25 July 2018

Encore Capital, the London based investment company focused on backing entrepreneurial growth businesses, has completed the sale of portfolio company Stagecoach Theatre Arts Limited (“Stagecoach”) to Trafalgar Entertainment Group Limited (“Trafalgar”), a live entertainment business that owns and operates live venues and creates and distributes innovative content.

Stagecoach, with over 30 years heritage, operates the largest network of part time performing arts schools for children aged 4 to 18 years old with 45,000 students attending classes each week across the UK and internationally.

Trafalgar is the latest venture from Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire – two of the most influential entertainment entrepreneurs of the last 20 years, and was established following their successful exit from ATG, the world’s largest live-theatre company. Their new venture seeks to build a fully integrated and well-resourced live entertainment platform operating across property, rights, production, content distribution, live-streaming and venue management.

Encore invested in Stagecoach in 2012. As part of the investment strategy it recruited a new executive team, invested in content and proposition and a fit for purpose IT infrastructure. An extensive rebranding exercise was completed in 2017 repositioning the business around Creative Courage for Life™ and strengthening its position as the market leader for Performing Arts education globally. Its brand, reputation, scale and heritage meant it was the natural choice for parents looking to educate their children in this area and give them ‘real skills’ for life.

Under Encore’s ownership the business doubled in size and expanded its international footprint into Germany, Canada and China. The transaction was completed on 1st July 2018 generating a significant return on Encore’s original investment.

Commenting on the transaction, Shirin Gandhi, Partner at Encore, said: “When we acquired Stagecoach we recognised the growing demand for children’s extra-curricular activities. We live in a global economy that requires our children to be prepared to think both critically and creatively. A strong foundation in reading, writing, maths and other core subjects is no longer sufficient for lifelong success. Parents are looking for new solutions to bridge the gap between what children are learning in school, and the real-world obstacles and demands that they will face as they progress through life. Stagecoach, through performing arts, provides this solution. Having doubled the size of the business during our ownership, we are delighted that Stagecoach will continue to have the opportunity to grow and exploit even greater opportunities as part of the Trafalgar group.”

Stagecoach CEO Sarah Kelly Commented: “I was introduced to Stagecoach by Encore following their acquisition of the business in early 2012 and throughout the life of the investment they have been extremely proactive and supportive. Their network, commercial approach and experience has been instrumental in building strong foundations on which the business has been able to scale. Helping children accomplish on the stage of life is something every parent wants, regardless of where they are in the world and we are excited at the prospect of becoming part of the Trafalgar family and the opportunities this will create.”

Rosemary Squire, Joint CEO for Trafalgar, said: “Howard and I have always been strong believers in building creative skills for the future. This is becoming increasingly important as mainstream schools struggle to offer creative arts specialisms and parents are looking for alternatives to digital entertainment for their children across all age groups. We introduced the award-winning Creative Learning programme at ATG and see the acquisition of Stagecoach as a natural progression. We hope that our professional expertise and the access we have to performing arts networks will add value to Stagecoach going forward. Between us we have a scalable offer with the potential to grow regionally in the UK and roll-out internationally.”

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