Earls Court and Olympia to be branded worldwide

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Morris brothers, owners of Earls Court and Olympia in London, are planning to roll out a worldwide network of exhibition centres.

The Morris brothers, owners of Earls Court and Olympia in London, are planning to roll out a worldwide network of exhibition centres.

Backed by venture capital group Candover, the secretive family plans to create up to seven overseas centres by 2005 under the Earls Court and Olympia names.

Earls Court & Olympia Group, the company set up to hold the two properties, will be used for the push, and could eventually be floated on the London Stock Exchange.

The initiative is headed by Andrew Morris, the second youngest of the five brothers and son of Sam Morris, the founder of City Industrial, which owns the Business Design Centre in Islington, north London.

"We have a great brand in Earls Court and Olympia, and are keen to see it perpetuated internationally," said Mr Morris. "We are opportunity-driven. Initially we will look for venues in the Far East, southern Europe and South America.

"We will target buildings which have a strong sense of identity in city locations. We are not interested in faceless sheds," he said.

Mr Morris is also managing director of Clarion, an exhibition company that runs the London Motor Show. He plans to stage the exhibitions internationally as well as managing the venues.

Mr Morris became chief executive of Earls Court & Olympia Group last October when he bought the two venues from P&O. Backed by Candover and Legal & General, the £183m purchase was one of the property deals of the year.

The Morrises beat big hitters Land Securities and Chelsfield to the prize. It gave Candover a 60 per cent stake in Earls Court & Olympia Group, with the Morris family holding 25 per cent, Legal & General 10 per cent and the management 5 per cent.

The Morris family is now midway through a £60m refurbishment programme of the two buildings. It plans to build a third exhibition hall over railway sidings in Kensington, west London.

Mr Morris's ultimate aim is to transform Earls Court & Olympia Group into a media company. "I want to create a golden triangle of publishing, the internet and exhibitions," he said. "There is a big opportunity for us to form a joint venture with a major publisher."

Mr Morris said he is not currently in discussions. However, it is understood he plans to open talks with IPC or Future Publishing because they lack major exhibition divisions.

Comments