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Metropolis Group restructures, but Qatar studios still on the radar

Chiswick’s Metropolis studios and its associated mastering, management and publishing businesses have taken on new investors after being placed in administration. But it’s “business as usual” says the CEO, and plans to open a studio in Qatar are going ahead.

Metropolis Group, owner of the famous West London recording studio, has undergone significant financial restructuring. However, plans to launch a facility in Qatar have not been jeopardised, Metropolis CEO Ian Brenchley (pictured) confirmed with PSNEurope last week.

The company’s management placed its trading company, Metropolis Group Limited (MGL), into administration on 31 May – a process which is now being handled by finance house MacIntyre Hudson LLP. The MGL business and its assets were successfully transferred to Metropolis London Music Ltd (MLML), the group’s holding company.

Metropolis is the biggest independent studio in London and has hosted recording sessions for countless world class artists over the years, including Queen, Robbie Williams, Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. It will continue to operate as a going concern, with all permanent staff in its various departments – which includes studio, mastering, artist management, publishing and creative strands – now employed under the new structure.

Brenchley told PSNEurope that Metropolis had “parted ways with the old investors, who weren’t able to generate revenue through their contacts”, leading to “cashflow issues” whereby the Group “couldn’t meet its obligations”.

Three new investors have been brought on board, who Brenchley called “incredibly strategic and experienced with a music and media business background”.

“They are much more suited to our vision… and can positively influence it,” he said.

Brenchley confirmed that currently all staff had been retained at the operation. “It’s a new lease of life really,” he said. “It’s business as usual as far as our clients are concerned.”

PSNEurope’s sister-title Music Week reports receiving calls from worried creditors last week, but Brenchley said: “As far as our liabilities are concerned, that’s in the hands of the administrators.”

He said “a portion of cash” had been set aside to “look after as many people as we possibly can. Going forward we hope to alleviate problems in other ways too. I’ve spoken to dozens of suppliers and we’re working out solutions.”

“Our business is about relationships and it’s incredibly important that we maintain those relationships,” he noted.

Metropolis’ plans regarding expansion to Tokyo and Los Angeles by 2014 – first revealed in PSNEurope August 2012 – were no longer a “top priority”, said Brenchley, though he would like to see the brand reach those territories “at some point”.

However, opening a facility in Qatar by the end of this year was still very much on the roadmap, he emphasised. This project has been designed, built and overseen by industry veteran Malcolm Atkin, current APRS chairman and a veteran of Air Monserrat and Sphere Studios. Brenchley confirmed that a “senior mastering engineer” would be in charge of running it.

The launch of a new website and company identity are believed to be imminent.

(Tim Ingham and Dave Robinson)