Bill Kenwright 300
EVERTON owner Bill Kenwright saw a tough summer at his theatrical and film production company as West End ticket sales were hit by the summer of celebrations including the Jubilee and the Olympics.
In accounts newly-filed at Companies House, Bill Kenwright Productions (BKP) – whose smash hit shows include Blood Brothers and Joseph – revealed profits had fallen by two thirds in 2011 as the recession hit ticket sales.
It also warned that the summer of 2012 could prove difficult as customers might shun the theatre in favour of events including the Olympic and Paralympic games, the Jubilee celebrations and the Euro 2012 tournament.
A spokesman at the company confirmed to the Post that the summer had been tough. In August, the company announced that the West End run of musical Blood Brothers was coming to an end after 24 years.
But the spokesman said BKP was expecting a strong autumn as crowds were already flocking back to theatres.
This week, a production of Cabaret starring pop star Will Young opens in London, while Tommy Steele will return to the London Palladium in Scrooge.
The spokesman told the Post: “We predicted that this summer would be difficult and indeed, by all accounts, it has been, with the poor West End ticket sales and the emotional decision to take off Blood Brothers at the Phoenix where it was is about to go into its 25th year.
It was the third longest-running musical of all time.”
In the accounts, BKP reported turnover for 2011 of £30.9m – down 13% on 2010.
That meant pre-tax profits fell from £2m to £668,000 – a fall of 67%.
Wavertree-born Mr Kenwright has made a small fortune after producing hundreds of shows in the West End and around the world. But he has admitted that his wealth cannot compare with the cash piles held by the owners of clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea, and so he is continuing to hunt for a buyer for Everton who can invest more in the team.
In its latest accounts, the group said: “Despite worsening economic conditions the group’s core business of producing quality theatrical plays and musicals continues to yield reliable returns.
“The group’s core shows – Joseph, Blood Brothers, Dreamboats and plays from its Agatha Christie catalogue – continue to attract substantial audiences and deliver year-on-year. Furthermore, the group continues the strategy of complementing its established shows with new productions and investments.
“A strong balance sheet allows the group to continue to embark on new projects and to seek out appropriate opportunities for investment. In the spring of 2011, the group co-produced the London Palladium production of The Wizard of Oz, followed later in the year by co-productions of Legally Blonde and South Pacific.
“The spring also saw the group co-produce the critically acclaimed play Pitmen Painters with the Royal National Theatre and Theatre Live Newcastle, which transferred to the West End for the first time in October.
“The year ended with the group producing a rare example of new writing in the West End with the award winning Three Days in May.”
This year, the group launched new musical Save the Last Dance for Me, a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express, and a production of Cabaret starring pop star Will Young. At the end of the year, Tommy Steele will return to the London Palladium in Scrooge.
This year the film Broken, produced by the group with BBC Films, BFI, Cuba Pictures and Lipsync Productions, was chosen to launch Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival. The report said: “The group continues to develop the strategy outlined above and is expected to generate a profit in 2012. The director is confident that the group will continue to prosper throughout 2012 and beyond.”
Mr Kenwright received £3m in dividends in 2010, but did not pay himself a dividend in 2011. His pay remained the same, at £404,000.
Over the year, the group donated £25,000 to charities.