Academy On The Fast Track

Within a couple of years of forming Academy Music Group by engineering a buyout of the old McKenzie Group, John Northcote is pleased to see his new outfit being touted as one of the U.K. private companies worth keeping an eye on.

In the business section of the U.K.’sThe Sunday Times, AMG was picked as one of the top 10 British private companies to watch for the future.

For the past 10 years, Fast Track has been researching Britain’s top performing private companies and the paper has been publishing its annual “league table” results.

The “Ten To Watch” list that included Academy is a new feature – sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It was set up to recognise a handful of companies that have “sustained their profits and paid attention to driving their businesses forward.”

Northcote created the company in August 2004 when he got RJD (formerly Royal London Private Equity) to back him and three major concert promoters in a £21.4 million deal to buy out Ian Howard and Charles Wells Brewery’s majority holding in the McKenzie Group.

In return for the backing and another estimated £12 million expansion capital, RJD took a 52 percent stake.

Northcote, who stepped up to be the new company’s chief exec, London’s Metropolis Music, Manchester’s SJM Concerts and Ireland’s MCD Productions have the other 48 percent split equally between them.

The promoters collectively have a large slice of the U.K. touring market and co-own and stage major outdoors, including the V Festival.

Brixton Academy is AMG’s flagship venue and it also owns and runs Academies – all carrying the Carling brewery brand – in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle and Islington (London), as well as West London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Bar Academy sites in London and Birmingham.

Northcote, who’s looking to find sites for more venues, greeted The Sunday Times listing by saying, “We’re delighted to be recognized for our commitment to the live music industry and the development of AMG’s strategy to work with our shareholders and partners to expand our network.”

– John Gammon