Stagecoach drama schools founders in line for �3m windfall

THE founders of drama school business Stagecoach Theatre Art, whose former students include Harry Potter star Emma Watson, are line for a �3million windfall after agreeing to sell the venture.

Stagecoach was set up by drama teacher Stephanie Manuel and banker David Sprigg in 1988 from three rented rooms in Surrey but now has around 700 franchised schools, including a number in East Anglia.

Other famous Stagecoach students include Tom Fletcher, lead singer in McFly.

The �6.5million takeover offer from private investor Shirin Gandhi, who is working with the existing management team, will see Mr Sprigg receive �1.9m and exit the company, whereas Ms Manuel will sell about half her stake for �1m and will stay on a part-time basis.

They opened the school after Ms Manuel, an actor, writer and drama teacher, spotted a niche in the market for a dance, drama and singing school for children between the ages of four and 18.

She teamed up with Mr Sprigg, who describes himself as a failed rock star who was “rescued” from his job at Barclays where he was a lending manager.

The business started with three schools in rented rooms, in Richmond, Redhill and Woking, but it developed into a franchise business and now has 684 schools across the globe including the US and Australia.

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Some 600 of its operations are in the UK, where it teaches some 34,000 students a year.