ATG acquires five theatres in aggressive US expansion
Ambassador Theatre Group has acquired a top North American theatre chain in a deal that will see the organisation gain five new venues in the US.
The theatre company has taken over ACE Theatrical Group, which manages theatres including the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans and the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio.
The deal means that ATG now operates 45 theatres across the UK, Australia and the US, following the company’s acquisition of the Sydney Theatre Royal last week.
ATG took on its first US theatre in 2013 when it acquired the Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway, which it later renamed the Lyric Theatre.
Rosemary Squire, the company’s joint chief executive, told The Stage: “This is the first step in North America to combine regions with Broadway, because obviously we have a Broadway theatre. In London we’ve always had the same thing – West End theatres as well as regional theatres. So it’s the first step of many, we hope, to grow the business in the way we have done very successfully in the UK.”
She added that it was important to ATG’s business model to acquire regional theatres as well as those in areas such as the West End and on Broadway.
She said: “Most people don’t live in the capital city. Why shouldn’t there be equally high quality entertainment at your regional theatre as on Broadway or in the West End? I don’t come from London and it was really vital to me growing up in Nottingham that there was fantastic theatre on offer when I was a kid. I think it’s so important that everywhere in the country has access to great theatre.”
Squire confirmed that ACE’s management team would remain with the business in what she said would be a “seamless” transition. The deal also includes the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts in New Orleans and the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre in San Antonio.
Allen Becker, chairman of ACE Theatrical Group, said: “I have known Howard, Rosemary and the ATG family for more than 20 years, and have invested in their company on two separate occasions. They have built a very successful business, and I am proud that they think enough of ACE and our staff to want us to join them. I believe there will be a great future in store for the combined companies, and look forward to watching their success.”
Squire also revealed ATG was looking to “grow the business” in Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, and that its current focus was not on acquiring more UK theatres.
She explained: “I think at the moment our focus is on international rollout, and that’s a really, really exciting step for the company. But that’s not to say that if something brilliant came up in the regions or in London that we wouldn’t look at it. But it’s not a question for us now in the UK of putting more flags on the map.”