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Solotech Acquires UK’s SSE Audio Group

By Clive Young. With the massive acquisition, North American live sound provider Solotech establishes a sizable presence in the European market.

Montreal, Canada (November 28, 2018)—North American live production provider Solotech has acquired UK-based SSE Audio Group, one of the largest sound companies serving the European market.

The surprise move comes just months after SSE did some acquiring of its own, having subsumed London-based SR provider Capital Sound in July, 2018. That was only the latest of SSE’s purchases, as it also bought London sound reinforcement company Canegreen in 2008, and Manchester-based audio provider Wigwam in 2013.

How SSE became a Go-To for Festival Sound

Characterizing the move as the most important in Solotech’s history, Martin Tremblay, president and CEO of Solotech, said that he expects the acquisition, in the works since this past summer, to generate growth opportunities and operational synergies, as well as expand services available to clients.

Founded more than 40 years ago, Solotech currently has roughly 1,200 employees across its 13 locations in Canada, the United States and Europe. While it provides video, lighting, rigging, soft goods and control/collaboration systems for productions, Solotech is likely best known for providing live sound over the years for the likes of Arcade Fire, Celine Dion, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, Leonard Cohen, Michael Buble, Cirque du Soleil and others.

More than 150 people currently work for SSE and its various divisions. Under terms of the acquisition, John Penn, who founded SSE Audio in 1976, will continue to head the group in the UK and SSE Audio, Capital Sound, Wigwam and Sigma Products will all continue as separate brands.

Underlining the international synergy that the acquisition creates for both parties, Penn noted, “Our clients will continue to benefit from the excellent reputation of our brands, but over time, they will also eventually have access to a broader service offering on both sides of the Atlantic, as Solotech offers a complete range of audio visual and entertainment technology services.”

Tremblay highlighted those services as well, stating, “The transaction will enable us to definitively pursue our expansion strategy in the European market and consolidate our unique position as a global player offering full-service (360) sales, rentals and integration of audiovisual technologies.”

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While the two companies have worked together in the past (Tremblay noted, “Solotech and SSE have worked together for years. We share a passion for innovation, quality and people”), it’s not the first time SSE has reached across the Atlantic. In recent times, it has had a working partnership with Escondido, CA-based Sound Image, as the two companies founded United Audio Companies in 2015, a venture that allowed them to co-supply audio for international productions such as this year’s Imagine Dragons world tour.

Tremblay told Pro Sound News, “As far as we are concerned, we want that collaboration to continue.”

Solotech’s shareholders—Claridge, Desjardins Capital and Investissement Québec—funded the acquisition. Pierre Boivin, chairman of Solotech’s board, said in a statement he expected the move to help the company make the most of predicted industry growth, citing recent InfoComm market forecasts: “The audiovisual industry offers excellent prospects for growth, which should increase by 4.3% per year to $53.4 billion US in 2022, compared to $43.1 billion US in 2017. Music tours should generate growth of 10% per year by 2022. This transaction will enable us to take full advantage of opportunities that open up to us.”

Solotech •

SSE Audio Group •