Earls Court set to close after buy-out

Liberty International, the FTSE 100
listed property company, has completed its takeover of the London exhibition venue, Earls Court and Olympia.

Liberty subsidiary, Capital Counties
(CapCo), acquired the remaining half stake in the site, from a group including
entrepreneurs David Coffer and Anthony Lyons. CapCo purchased the initial 50 per
cent interest in EC&O in 2007.

The move is seen as
the final nail in the coffin for the once-proud exhibition centre, home to many
iconic UK shows including the Ideal Home
Show, the Great British Beer Festival and the Brit
Awards.

Earls
Court is expected to honour its 2012 Olympic venue
commitments and there could be a
conference centre as part of the new property development, but it
is understood that the old exhibition
halls will be closed.

In recent months the venue,
which requires a significant amount of refurbishment, has struggled to retain
its dominant position in the London event market against more modern Docklands
rivals Excel London, whose
exhibitions and conferences MD David Pegler tells conference-news:
“The latest news re:
Capital and Counties intentions does not come as a surprise.. Earlier stories
have consistently indicated the desire to change the use of Earls Court and
begin redevelopment as soon as possible. The long awaited opening of London’s first
International Convention Centre and expanded Hall capacity at Excel in May could
not be better timed.”

The buy-out gives
Liberty free rein to march ahead with plans to
create a mixed-use development of up to 5.2 million sqm on the site, according
to UK property development trade
magazine, Estates
Gazette
.

CapCo also takes
ownership of The Brewery centre in the City of London. The new owners are yet to comment officially on the
buy-out.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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