Royal Armouries
Image Source: Tim Green
Royal Armouries, Leeds.

Government acquires catering and events arm of Royal Armouries in £11.2m deal

The government has completed the acquisition of the catering and events arm of the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds in an £11.2m deal.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Royal Armouries (International) plc have reached an agreement for the sale of RAI to the DCMS.

The Royal Armouries Museum houses one of the oldest collections of arms and armour in the world and is the UK’s oldest museum.

Originally housed in the Tower of London from the 15th century, the Royal Armouries was the first museum in Britain and moved to Leeds in 1996.

RAI assets include the cafe and catering arm, events business and carpark. The business will continue to trade and the offer will continue in its existing form, with all current bookings being honoured.

The £11.2m acquisition will enable the Royal Armouries museum to take ownership of the commercial offer at its site in Leeds and unify and concert all museum operations, aligning its services with the model used at other DCMS-sponsored national museums.

Michael Ellis, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, said: “I would like to thank the outgoing directors of Royal Armouries International for their contribution to developing the site and offer in Leeds.

“This deal begins a new chapter for the Royal Armouries, bringing the museum and the catering arms together to continue to evolve the full offer of this fantastic cultural institution in the heart of Yorkshire. It also underlines the government’s continued commitment to arts and culture in the North of England.”

Lord (Richard) Dannatt, chair of the Royal Armouries board of trustees, added: “The Royal Armouries museum has established a very strong cultural presence within the North of England over the past twenty years.

“I am delighted with this landmark deal for the Royal Armouries which will enable it to continue to flourish and grow for many years to come. I extend my deep thanks to the DCMS for their commitment and support and to the outgoing directors of the Royal Armouries International for their contribution to our story in Leeds.”

James Vincent, managing director of RAI, also commented: “The Directors of RAI have been involved at Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds for over 20 years. It is now the right time for the catering, corporate hospitality and event arm to be brought closer to the museum and for the Directors to stand to one side.

“We wish the RAI team and this wonderful national museum, here in the north of England every success for the future.”

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