Profits at Desmond’s festival firm rise to £20m

Ireland’s most successful concert promoter Denis Desmond has added to his fortune by sharing dividends totalling £9.58m (€11m) from his Festival Republic business over the past two years.

The Electric Picnic is one of six outdoor festivals that Festival Republic will be promoting this year. New figures show Mr Desmond’s Gaiety Investments shared a further £2.93m in dividends last year from Festival Republic, and this followed a dividend payout of £6.6m in 2011.

Gaiety Investments has a 49.9% share in Festival Republic with concert promoters, Live Nation owning the remaining shares.

The figures show almost 600,000 people went to see Festival Republic’s six events last year including the Reading and Leeds music festivals.

The figures show the UK-based firm’s pre-tax profits in the 12 months to the end of Dec 2012 decreased by 19% from £6.25m to £5m.

This followed revenues at the firm dipping marginally from £42.2m to £41.4m.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Desmond said he is “very happy” with how the Festival Republic business performed last year.

He said revenues from Electric Picnic at Stradbally in Co Laois will form part of Festival Republic’s results for 2013 “and that will help consolidate the business for this year”. “I would be confident that Festival Republic will hit the same level of profits as it did last year.”

Mr Desmond said the return of Glastonbury has resulted in a spike in ticket sales for Festival Republic’s events this summer.

“There is a feel good factor around Glastonbury. Two and a half million people watching TV saw The Rolling Stones perform at the weekend. There is a lot of positivity around music festivals as a result of Glastonbury.”

He said 155,000 music fans will attend the Leeds and Reading music festivals this summer, and 600,000 people will attend open air MCD events in Ireland.

He estimated that along with Aiken Promotions’ gigs, 1m people will attend gigs in Ireland this summer.

However, he blamed the introduction of the property tax for a dip in ticket sales in Ireland earlier this year. “There was a noticeable dip and we thought ‘wow, the world has stopped’, but tickets sales have picked up since — and concert ticket prices are getting cheaper.”

He said that ticket sales for Oxegen “are doing well. We will hit our targets. The event is scaled down and going in a new direction”.

Melvin Benn is managing director of Festival Republic. The firm’s accumulated profits last year increased to £20m with the firm’s cash increasing from £1.8m to £4.5m.

The remuneration for one unidentified director at Festival Republic totalled £579,535 last year with the other directors’ emoluments borne by other companies.


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