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Nightcap to focus on ‘female-led socialising’

UK-based bar operator Nightcap has reported group revenues of £6 million (US$8.1m) for the 52 weeks to 27 June 2021, and plans to continue this momentum by concentrating on ‘female-led socialising’.

Tonight Josephine: an opportunity for ‘female-led’ occasions

Nightcap was founded in 2020 with the goal of becoming the UK’s largest bar operator through the acquisition and growth of hospitality concepts.

In December 2020, the group acquired The London Cocktail Club, which was recently rebranded as The Cocktail Club. In May 2021, Nightcap bought Adventure Bar Group (ABG), which includes the bar chains Tonight Josephine and Blame Gloria.

The £6m total revenues include a full year of trading for The Cocktail Club and just six weeks of trading for the Adventure Bar Group. The latter acquisition accounted for £2.4m (US$3.2m) of the figure.

“Nightcap was built during the Covid-19 global pandemic to acquire and expand leading brands in the drinks-led bar sector,” said Nightcap CEO Sarah Tillingham.

“We are acquiring fundamentally strong businesses that have been weakened by the impact of the pandemic.

“We are really pleased with the performance of The Cocktail Club and the Adventure Bar Group since reopening. Most of our sites have posted record sales weeks and our teams have worked tirelessly to meet the demand from customers.”

Based on the performance of the Tonight Josephine and Blame Gloria brands, Tillingham said Nightcap plans to funnel resources into expanding these two bar chains. “We think both brands have a large untapped demand for female-led socialising in welcoming, safe environments around the country,” she said.

While the safety of customers is an ongoing concern for hospitality operators, a recent rise in drink spiking has once again brought this topic to the forefront.

In addition, the group plans to grow The Cocktail Club from its current 10 bars to more than 40 sites over the next four years. The chain is due to open three new locations this month.

Staff recruitment: “biggest challenge”

Tillingham also revealed that finding workers has been “the biggest challenge” for the group – an industry-wide issue led by Brexit and the pandemic.

“We are resolutely determined to maintain our position as an employer of choice, off the back of the excellent training and progression opportunities that our team members are offered within the group’s businesses,” she said.

“However, we know that the lack of staff availability is affecting peer group companies and is a material challenge for our industry. This pressure is likely to feed through in wage inflation and into a squeeze on labour costs.”

Meanwhile, the operator has been “substantially unaffected” by the supply chain issues currently impacting the on- and off-trade.

“I am especially pleased by the way that the Adventure Bar Group and The Cocktail Club have worked with our key supplier partners to ensure that we have already secured the necessary stocks of key cocktail ingredients and bottled beer ahead of the important busy Christmas trading period,” Tillingham commented.

Nightcap recently reported a ‘strong’ start to its new financial year, posting a 68% net sales increase for the 13 weeks to 26 September.

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