Post-acquisition: Celebrating successes and creating connections

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Venues and Events International acquisition of Absolute Corporate Events (ACE) has seen the two agencies thriving, three months on.

While mergers and acquisitions don’t always go as planned in the events industry, Venues and Events International’s Anita Lowe, and ACE’s Client Strategies Director, Chris Parnham, are excited about the combined direction of the business.

Chris says: “The majority of mergers and acquisitions fail, and although both parties may have the best of intentions things don’t always go to plan. The objectives may be shared; growth, new markets, new services, survival, but if leadership style and company cultures aren’t a good fit and teams are shoe-horned together, then things might not go to plan – even if both companies are focused on the same values. It’s great to see that Anita and I share objectives, styles and values and best of all, our teams are getting on wonderfully.”

Anita continues: “Chris and I are still on such a high because it’s so right. We made this move looking inward to our teams – who they are, how they work, their processes, and their different strengths, skills, and expertise. And we examined whether they would work together – not just in parallel. We’re not a huge company with hundreds of employees, so speaking to the people we’ve pulled together is easy. It’s evident to all of us we’re thriving together. And our clients know it, too.”

The pair cites the return from a sabbatical of ACE Senior Event Manager Lucy Hay as further evidence of their successful integration. Lucy joined ACE in 2015, building strong client relationships by delivering successful events. To avoid pandemic-related redundancy, Lucy took the opportunity to take sabbatical leave and give back to her community by supporting others via work with FareShare – the UK’s target charity fighting hunger and food waste.

Speaking about re-joining the industry and a new dual role for ACE and Venues and Events International, Lucy says: “I’m so excited to get back to events. Taking time out and helping people has meant a lot to me, but my passion lies in delivering exceptional event experiences. Returning after the acquisition is an extraordinary opportunity. I will work with various teams, existing ACE clients, and exciting projects new to me through Venues and Events International. It’s clear from speaking with Chris, Anita, and others, that this is a time for personal growth, too: to be coached and mentor others, and be part of a bigger team that offer greater services to our clients.”

Anita continues: “We’re delighted to welcome Lucy into the family, and her return marks an essential milestone as the two businesses become more aligned. Although a return to work after acquisition can be an uncertain time, we’ve been open and clear in our intention to support her. Lucy has tons of experience; we agree that we can learn much from each other for the benefit of all of our teams and clients.”

Dorien Jones, Head of Event Management at Eurofinance, a loyal client to ACE for over 7 years, supports Lucy’s view: “I’m delighted to see Lucy return. She has always been such a tremendous asset in helping deliver Eurofinance events. As we prepare for next year’s events, I’m thrilled that she will be at our side, doing what she does best while expanding her strengths with the Venues and Events International team.”

Jacquie Freer, Client Engagement Director at ACE and ADC, heads up the Eurofinance account and has worked with them on transitioning live events to virtual over the pandemic months. “I’m so excited to be back to LIVE in-person events and travelling internationally with Dorien in the coming weeks and months to finalise details. I’m also delighted to have Lucy back supporting me, having worked side by side for many years.”

Anita concludes: “It’s all about your outlook, I think, and ACE and Venues and Events International have clients and employees with similar values. We all believe that openness fuels creativity and solid, successful relationships.”