City centre event space host etc.venues is to expand into the United States and beyond in a new partnership with US investor Gencom and Benchmark, a global hospitality company.
The partners say their collaboration will spur the global expansion of Benchmark and etc.venues in urban and destination sites in both Europe and the US.
Alastair Stewart, managing director of etc.venues, says: “In just 10 years we’ve grown almost five-fold and with the backing of UK private equity funds far exceeded our own expectations. It’s given us the confidence to now take our venue model to a broader stage. We’ve long been planning expansion into the US and this new partnership with Gencom and Benchmark will now make that happen.”
“Benchmark CEO Alex Cabañas and I have been talking for years, and we are both delighted that etc.venues will now have the financial, sales and marketing and operational support it needs to establish new venues in the US, while Benchmark is now better positioned to pursue hotel management business in Europe.”
According to Cabañas: “Benchmark’s leadership in delivering exceptional meeting experiences aligns perfectly with etc.venues’ sophisticated meetings and events space in the UK market.”
Investment was led by Benchmark’s capital partner, Gencom, and a new investor, Colony North Star, offering a global platform of capital and real estate expertise to grow both businesses.
“Culturally, operationally and sales and marketing-wise, Benchmark and etc.venues are a perfect fit,” concludes Cabañas.
Consumer preferences are trending towards experiential travel, on demand services/amenities, and shared/collaborative spaces, the partners believe and say their mixed-use platform aims to attract real estate owners and managers looking for a diverse-portfolio one-stop-shop operator.
The etc.venues management team continues to expand in London, too, with plans already underway for new locations in the London portfolio. “Our continued mission to create memorable, talking-point corporate events is well and truly alive and flourishing. We remain committed to offering a new style of niche venue positioned between the established hotels and co-working office groups”, says Stewart.
“Growth Capital Partners have been an excellent UK investor for us and helped us treble the size of the business in five years. The nature of private equity is that investments normally have a lifespan and securing new investment in the US allows us to focus on our next stage of growth and innovation. It’s very exciting for us.”
etc.venues has 15 UK venues and specialises in the conference, meetings, training and events market, hosting 750,000 delegates a year at 17,000 events in over 250 rooms. In 2017 it opened 68,000sqft of conference and event space at London’s iconic, listed riverside venue County Hall, and opened its first Manchester venue.
Gencom is a Miami based investment firm that owns, operates and develops property around the world, with an emphasis on luxury hotels, resorts and branded residential properties; and is also an active owner of/and investor in hospitality operating platforms.
Benchmark, headquartered in Houston, Texas is a developer, manager and owner of resorts, hotels, conference centers and exclusive private clubs. etc.venues will join a suite of Benchmark hospitality services brands: Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, Gemstone Collection, Benchmark Conference Centers and the Benchmark Owner Advisory Group. The partnership means that Benchmark will now operate across three continents, with a total of 80 properties in North America, the Caribbean, Japan and the UK.