Trafalgar Entertainment and HQ Theatres have announced details of a venture that will bring together the UK’s largest specialist regional theatre operator with Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire’s premium international live entertainment business.

HQ – founded as part of Nick Thomas MBE’s Qdos Entertainment Group – operates 11 UK venues including Southend Cliffs Pavilion, G Live, Guildford; Bromley’s Churchill Theatre and the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. The company is also the preferred operator of the New Theatre, Cardiff and has a number of additional growth opportunities in sight.

HQ’s Group Leadership Team including CEO Julian Russell, COO Alvin Hargreaves and Group Marketing Director Chris McGuigan will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the company.

Trafalgar Entertainment, co-founded by Panter and Squire in 2017, has grown significantly over recent years. The company owns and operates London’s Trafalgar Theatre (set to reopen after a major refurbishment with Jersey Boys, summer 2021) and will be opening Australia’s Theatre Royal Sydney in September.

Trafalgar Entertainment is a major producer through Trafalgar Theatre Productions and Jonathan Church Theatre Productions; and the leading distributor of live-streaming content through Trafalgar Releasing. Trafalgar Entertainment is also home to Stagecoach Performing Arts, ticket agency London Theatre Direct, Luke Shires Marketing, Chiswick Cinema and More2Screen.

Nick Thomas MBE, Chairman and Founder of Qdos Entertainment Group said: “My team and I built HQ from small beginnings to be a major player in the UK theatre and live entertainment sector. I am delighted that the journey will continue for the team through this collaboration with Trafalgar Entertainment to further develop HQ, the business I founded. This is not so much the end of an era as the beginning of an exciting new chapter for HQ, together with the company’s producer and local authority partners.” 

Dame Rosemary Squire, Joint CEO and Executive Chair 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 to accelerate growth and to build the business.  But of course HQ will continue to do what it does best – offering a premium live theatre and entertainment experience – complemented with an industry leading food and drink offer – to theatregoers up and down the country.”

Julian Russell, CEO of HQ Theatres said: “Today’s announcement is a vote of confidence for our business and for the sector as a whole. It is also an acknowledgment of the extraordinary commitment, dedication and hard work of the entire HQ team. 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 HQ Theatres in the future.”

The transaction completed on 27 March 2021. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.