Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire purchase stage school franchise Stagecoach
Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire’s Trafalgar Entertainment Group has made one of its most significant purchases since forming in 2017, with the acquisition of performing arts school network Stagecoach.
Stagecoach – the UK’s largest network of part-time performing arts schools – is part of TEG’s wider growth plans. The company also intends to open a new boutique cinema in West London as well as theatres in London and outside the capital.
Panter and Squire have purchased Stagecoach from private equity firm Encore Capital for an undisclosed sum. They plan to expand the organisation’s international reach. Stagecoach has 45,885 students across 1,760 schools and classes in 347 territories, across nine countries.
In an exclusive interview in The Stage this week, the couple said they wanted to grow its footprint abroad. Stagecoach already operates in territories such as Canada, Germany and Australia.
Squire said: “Howard and I have always been strong believers in building creative skills for the future. This is becoming increasingly important as mainstream schools struggle to offer creative arts specialisms and parents are looking for alternatives to digital entertainment for their children. We introduced the award-winning Creative Learning programme at ATG and see the acquisition of Stagecoach as a natural progression. We hope that our professional expertise and the access we have to performing arts networks will add value to Stagecoach going forward.”
She added: “Between us we have a scalable offer with the potential to grow regionally in the UK and roll out internationally.”
The Stagecoach brand will remain under TEG, with Sarah Kelly continuing as chief executive, a role she has had since 2013.
Squire said: “It’s a great business. Having private equity discipline for the last six years has made it robust, has made it grow. They’ve done a great job and they have a fantastic team, but I think it’s something we can add value to.”
In their interview with The Stage, Panter and Squire also revealed further plans to expand TEG, which already owns Trafalgar Studios and Trafalgar Releasing, a rebranding of Picturehouse Entertainment.
They revealed they are considering opening a new theatre in London, alongside a pop-up venue, as well as acquiring venues regionally.
The couple also indicated they would not be opposed to buying back ATG, if it came back up for sale.
“We’d look at it. ATG is a great business. Obviously as a shareholder I hope it will go for the right price. But yes, of course we would look at it,” Squire told The Stage.
In addition, Panter and Squire are interested in making the move into family entertainment and pantomime. Squire said the closure of First Family Entertainment meant there was a “big opportunity” in that area.