Event company toasts success of festival bar business - PKF Francis Clark
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Event company toasts success of festival bar business

 “We turn concepts into reality, every event organised is bespoke and every client has different requirements.”

The words of Bligh Julius, Managing Director of Hampshire-based Onyx Events, one of the UK’s longest established event production companies.

From planning global events, conferences, meetings and award ceremonies, to bespoke communication programmes, videos and unique events in the most unusual locations on the planet, Onyx has seriously got event production down to a fine art!

The company’s impressive client list includes Bunzl plc, the global distribution and outsourcing company; Pernod Ricard, the global drinks distributor, and Westons Cider, the UK based cider maker.

Bunzl has been a client for 18 years while Pernod Ricard has been on the books since 2004, testament to the personal service provided by Onyx and the close relationships established with these key clients.

Founded 36 years ago by Glenn Julius, Chairman, the family-owned business currently employs a core team of nine people. Bligh leads the business from the front, Glenn imparts his creativity and experience to the team, while Bryony, Glenn’s wife, overseas event logistics and planning.

From its offices on the outskirts of Lymington, Onyx is a full-service production company. Its business module creates bespoke events from concept to completion, crafting ideas into reality

“We literally do, and have done, pretty much everything over the years. We work within a highly competitive market and pride ourselves on being creative while delivering events on time and on budget, time and time again,” said Bligh.

He added: “The fact that some of the biggest and best-known companies in the world have been clients for many years shows that we must be doing something right, although there’s absolutely no complacency on our part. You’re only as good as your last job.”

Two years ago Bligh had a vision to diversify into an already familiar market.

With the help and guidance of PKF Francis Clark, the company split into two with the launch of a new business, Onyx Bars.

Using a specially designed and built 7.5 tonne horse box lorry as a pop-up bar. Onyx Bars’ first venture was at the Christchurch Food Festival in Dorset in 2017, working in partnership with commercial radio station Wave 105.

Aptly named by Wave 105 listeners as the ‘Tack and Tipple’, the bar proved an instant success. Other events swiftly followed for the Tack and Tipple, targeting all year round hire at festivals, corporate events, weddings and private occasions.

“To be honest this pop-up bar solution was something of a baptism of fire, but we were confident we were onto a winner. The concept is just perfect for festivals and other outdoor events,” explained Bligh.

“Things have now moved on at pace, our bar business also installs and manages staff bars for other companies, using operational skills born out of our long-standing production experience as well as attending festivals in our own right.

“This summer we are delivering bar solutions at all eight Tom Kerridge Pub in the Parks across the country, along with being the sole cider supplier among many others, the biggest locally is probably the Great Dorset Steam Fair, We’re also targeting smaller events as well as creating our very own festival. The key to the success of any event is its creativity, while ensuring the production efficiency, having fun, using cracking food, brilliant entertainment and controlled drinking environments.”

To help drive future growth, Onyx has now taken on a dedicated Business Development Manager, Ollie Mount.

Ollie also supports event production and logistics while focusing on expanding Onyx Bars.

Onyx has been a client of PKF Francis Clark since 1995. Partner Anne-Marie Gates has been involved since the start, taking over as lead Partner three years ago.

Our work has ranged from cash flow management, working closely with the company’s bankers and preparation of end-of-year accounts through to assisting with the splitting of Onyx into Onyx Communications Limited and Onyx Bars.

“Onyx is a very interesting business and it’s fair to say that the last couple of years, in particular, have been a steep learning curve for the company,” said Anne-Marie.

She added: “We’ve helped Onyx in all sorts of ways, including introducing them to Xero accounting software for instant access to the numbers and in readiness for MTD (Making Tax Digital). We have also referred them to experts in non-finance areas.

“They’re a great client who are not afraid to pick up the phone and ask for help.”

Onyx founder and Chairman Glenn Julius said: “Our relationship with PKF Francis Clark goes back many years. During this time, they have become a trusted partner, providing advice and assistance on a whole range of topics.

“Anne-Marie is an integral part of our team and together with her colleagues, provides an invaluable service to Onyx.”


FEATURING: Anne-Marie Gates
Anne-Marie is based in the Poole office and joined the firm as a trainee, progressing to partner in 2004. Anne-Marie deals with a broad range… read more
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