SSE Audio Group has acquired Lancashire-based rental house Wigwam Acoustics for an undisclosed amount. The deal, which includes Wigwam’s Mick Spratt and Chris Hill taking a shareholding in Midlands-based SSE, marks a major consolidation in the rental industry, as it creates the largest audio hire, sales and installation group in the UK.
John Penn, managing director of the Group (shown), commented: “We are extremely proud to have joined forces with Wigwam. There are great synergies between the two companies and together we aim to deliver even better service and wider choice to our enlarged client base. With the additional premises in Heywood, and the combined equipment pool, experience and services of both companies together, we believe we are in a great position to move forward.”
Both companies have a strong presence in the UK touring market having been closely involved in its growth and development for the past 35 years, working with artists such as UB40, Madness, Metallica, ACDC, Radiohead, Björk, Spice Girls, Oasis and Stone Roses. SSE Audio Group provides audio production to the majority of the UK’s leading music festivals, such as Reading & Leeds, V Festivals, T in the Park and Download, while Wigwam has a strong reputation in the touring market with artists at stadium level, including Coldplay, One Direction and George Michael.
Heather Penn, SSE finance director, confirmed that there had been no redundancies in the deal.
SSE and Wigwam both have strong sales and installations divisions and these will now be integrated. Alex Penn has been appointed sales director to lead the expanded equipment sales department. Following the acquisition by SSE Audio Group of ETA Sound in 2012, the installation and servicing of PAVA equipment in arenas, stadiums and public spaces countrywide has been added to the portfolio. Wigwam is active in installations in complementary markets such as houses of worship and and theatres.
Mick Spratt, director of Wigwam said: “We have been talking to SSE about joining up for some time. Chris (Hill) and I were looking for a route to secure a long-term future for Wigwam and our staff which would be least disruptive to what is a very successful company. We’ve known and respected John and Heather for over 30 years and believe that both companies have similar cultures and vision.”
Yan Stile, SSE’s hire director, founder of Canegreen which joined SSE Audio Group in 2008 added: “I didn’t know what to expect when Canegreen merged with SSE five years ago… but I have to say it was the best thing we ever did and I’ve had absolutely no regrets from day one. I’m so pleased that the Wigwam guys have had the same foresight and we can’t wait to get it all moving along now.”
John Penn added: “From the customer perspective, nothing will change at Wigwam. The company is very successful and much loved, and we don’t want to mess about with that formula. What we can add are our information technology systems and equipment management software, and of course our combined equipment pool will enable the Group to offer L-Acoustics, d&b, Meyer, Adamson & Nexo systems to both companies’ clients. Mick and Chris will still be there but will have more time to spend looking after their customers.”
Wigwam’s Manchester base will be added to SSE’s current locations: HQ in Redditch plus London and Bradford, Paris and Nantes (Melpomen). The expanded company now employs 140 full-time staff with combined revenue in excess of £20 million (€23.5 million).
Heather Penn remarked: “None of us are retiring yet, but we do have the next generation in waiting. It’s our strength.” She also revealed details of how she and her husband celebrated the expansion. “We went to Morrison’s (supermarket restaurant). I had a tuna jacket and John had the full English. We hold regular board meetings there: it was there we agreed to spend one million on [L-Acoustics] K1.”