Last updated: January 7, 2013 4:41 pm

Seatwave founder steps aside as CEO

Joe Cohen, the founder and chief executive of the ticket reselling website Seatwave, has stepped down as chief executive with the company set to break even for the first time after a tough few years.

Mr Cohen, who founded the company in 2006, will step back from day-to-day operations, but will remain at the company as non-executive chairman.

Louise Mullock, the group’s chief marketing officer, will become interim chief executive while Mr Cohen leads the hunt for his full-time successor.

“It’s time for a new chapter for me personally,” said Mr Cohen. “I feel the business is in great shape, with a great team, and I would like to step back and think about the rest of my life.”

Seatwave – which provides a marketplace for people to resell tickets to concerts and events – staged a recovery in 2012 after a miserable few years for the group, as the economic downturn hit live music and events in the UK.

The number of concert tickets on sale in the UK declined each year from 2009. Ticket resellers suffered especially, as artists struggled to sell out gigs, reducing demand in the secondary market, triggering a drop in Seatwave’s revenues.

A strong roster of tours and concerts from leading acts such as the Rolling Stones helped the sector recover strongly at the end of 2012.

Revenues at Seatwave broke through £10m for the first time in its history in 2012. Losses before tax have decreased in recent years and the company says it should break even in 2013.

Companies such as Seatwave and Viagogo, a rival ticket reseller that operates in 28 countries, have come under pressure from campaigners who compare the business model to touting. The companies, however, maintain that they provide a secure marketplace that allows fans to resell tickets safely. The government, meanwhile, has made it clear that it has no plans to increase regulation of the sector.

Mr Cohen’s move comes after a string of senior exits at Seatwave, including marketing director James Hamlin, who left in December and Chris Willis, the group’s sales director, who will leave in the second half of January.

Acquisition rumours have dogged the group, but a sale or even a float are some way in the future, according to Mr Cohen. “We have venture investors in the business and they need a return at some point,” said Mr Cohen. “We don’t have anything cooking right now. We’re always talking to folks.”

Michael Stephanblome, who previously worked at Ebay and Gumtree, the listings website, will join the board as an independent non-executive director.

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