Brand Events Australia (BEA), which produces some of country’s most successful food festivals, including Taste in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, as well as the Margaret River Gourmet Escape in Western Australia, has been sold to New York-based IMG, by its UK-based parent company Brand Events Holdings Ltd. The sale price has not been disclosed.
The British company launched the Taste Festivals brand 12 years ago, before selling it to IMG’s arts and entertainment branch in 2013. It now has 21 events scheduled globally in 2015.
BEA launched in 2008, and following the sale of Taste to IMG, produced the festival under licence. The deal brings the Taste Festivals wholly under IMG, but excludes BEA’s motorsports activities, which will form part of a newly-created separate entity, Live Events AY.
Last year, Brand Events struck a three-year funding deal with the Western Australia government to produce the Margaret River Gourmet Escape until 2017, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $2.58 million. Chris Hughes, CEO of Brand Events Holdings UK, and creator of the Margaret River weekend, will stay on as event director.
Simon Wilson, Taste Festivals director, told Business Insider it would be “business as usual” for the events team following the sale.
“I believe IMG regard the team behind Australia’s top food festivals are a big part of the reason they wanted the business,” he said.
IMG bills itself as “a global leader in sports, fashion and media”, operating in more than 25 countries. Last year it was sold to Hollywood talent agency WME for $US2.2 billion.
IMG Australia MD Chris Gilbert said “the culinary space continues to grow in market appeal and we look forward to supporting the continued growth and development of these acclaimed events.”
The sale comes as a cloud hangs over the future of the Noosa Food and Wine Festival after its creator, Jim Berardo, was forced to appoint a voluntary administrator last Friday, just two weeks after nearly 35,000 people enjoyed the 2015 event.
Berardo said poor weather, combined with a 20% jump in infrastructure costs and “a lethargic economy which made sponsorship and discretionary spending extremely challenging” forced him to appoint an administrator 12 years after he founded the festival in his landmark restaurant, Berardo’s, which has also closed after 16 years.
“Although event ticket pre-sales were very positive and up on previous years, the impact of wet weather at the event meant gate ticket sales and festival spending were dramatically reduced, resulting in losses,” Berardo said. “I will need to work closely with the administrator to resolve the situation”.
“I have every confidence with the assistance of local and state governments and the key partners that the Festival will continue in 2016 and will be better than ever,” Berardo said.
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