Published: 12:48, 30 March 2021
| Updated: 17:15, 30 March 2021
A local theatre group is set to team up with producers behind West End shows following a successful takeover bid.
The deal has been described by industry bosses as a "vote of confidence in the live theatre sector".
It will provide an opportunity to fast track its recovery when venues are permitted to reopen – currently projected to be June 21 – according to HQ Theatres whose leadership team will remain in charge of day-to-day operations.
The move will see the UK’s largest specialist regional theatre operator join forces with an international live entertainment brand.
Co-founded by Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire in 2017, Trafalgar Entertainment produces theatre shows in London's West End.
The company owns and operates London’s Trafalgar Theatre, set to reopen after a major refurbishment with Jersey Boys this summer and will be opening Australia’s Theatre Royal Sydney in September.
It is also home to Stagecoach Performing Arts, ticket agency London Theatre Direct, Luke Shires Marketing, Chiswick Cinema and More2Screen.
Dame Rosemary Squire, joint chief executive of Trafalgar Entertainment said: “HQ Theatres is a fantastic business and on behalf of the team at Trafalgar Entertainment, we’re thrilled to be partnering with them for the future.
"It’s a credit to the whole team that they have navigated the recent closure period so successfully and are poised to emerge intact and well placed for future growth as the sector rebuilds.
"Our aim is to add value and investment, through Trafalgar Entertainment, to their portfolio of venues including The Orchard Theatre, to accelerate growth and to build the business."
She said the move would allow HQ to continue what it does best, offering a "premium live theatre and entertainment experience" complemented with an industry leading food and drink offer to theatregoers.
Julian Russell, chief executive of HQ Theatres labelled the move a "vote of confidence" for the live entertainment sector and its business.
"It is an acknowledgment of the extraordinary commitment, dedication and hard work of the entire HQ team and our local venue teams," he said.
"After a tumultuous 2020 this partnership will help to fast-track our recovery plans and offers a range of exciting opportunities for the development of the programme at The Orchard Theatre in the future.”
Local management and staffing arrangements will not be affected by the changes, the theatre group says.
The Orchard Theatre has been closed since March last year when lockdown restrictions first came into play.
It came under fire recently from worker's union Unison after it axed more than 40 long-serving staff members via email.
But the playhouse in Home Gardens, operated by HQ Theatres on behalf of Dartford council, said it had released 42 people on casual worker agreements with the promise of new contracts being offered once it reopens.