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Nightcap buys Dirty Martini

Bar investment group Nightcap has agreed to purchase UK cocktail bar chain Dirty Martini for £4.65 million (US$5.85m).

Sarah Willingham is the CEO of Nightcap, which owns and operates 36 bars across the UK

The deal includes the acquisition of 10 Dirty Martini bars, including five in London, and an additional five located in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, and Cardiff.

Furthermore, the agreement includes the purchase of Tuttons Brasserie in London, and Nightcap has employed all staff working at the 10 Dirty Martini bars and Tuttons restaurant as part of the acquisition.

The Dirty Martini brand is said to have ‘significant roll-out potential’, with the Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff sites complementing Nightcap’s ‘cluster model strategy’.

Sarah Willingham, CEO of Nightcap, commented: “We couldn’t be happier to welcome Dirty Martini to the Nightcap family. These are long-established, well-run bars that fit well with our existing portfolio and our model of running multiple brands in clusters in London and around the country.

“Dirty Martini’s late-night bars operate in a similar way to ours. They have great bars in excellent locations with impressive fit-outs, following over £10 million (US$12.59m) of capital investment.

“We will embed the Dirty Martini site operations into our existing head office infrastructure and expect to see synergies across the business as we continue to grow.

“This is the fourth acquisition in under three years and marks yet another important strategic step toward building the UK’s leading bar group.”

This deal is in line with Nightcap’s strategy of making ‘selective acquisitions within the drinks-led premium bar segment of the UK hospitality sector’, which saw it acquire The Cocktail Club (formerly The London Cocktail Club) in January 2021, the Adventure Bar Group in May 2021, and the Barrio Bar Group in November 2021.

London Cocktail Club no shows
The Cocktail Club is part of Nightcap’s portfolio

Prior to this acquisition, Nightcap owned and ran 36 bars including Disrepute, Cocktail Club, Barrio, Tonight Josephine, and Blame Gloria.

The board believes that the Dirty Martini brand is a ‘compelling and complementary acquisition for Nightcap’, and ‘a good fit’ with the company’s existing portfolio, increasing the group’s presence in its already established locations and expanding Nightcap’s portfolio of bars into further key cities.

Full-year 2023

While Nightcap’s sales during the first half of 2023 hit £23.2m (US$28.3m), the influence of train strikes has been the main source of disruption to the group’s trading in the year ending 2 July 2023.

The board currently predicts revenues to be broadly in line with current market expectations, with adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation) expected to be below current market expectations.

Management currently estimates that the 28 train strike days over 2022-2023 have cost the group a total of approximately £2.9m (US$3.65m) in revenue.

“Whilst the rail strikes have been detrimental to our current year performance, we are extremely proud of Nightcap’s successful new openings, the growth we have achieved and the foundation we have built for the future,” said Willingham. “Without the impact of rail strikes we would have had an exceptional year, which bodes well for next year.

“With the acquisition of Dirty Martini, we have a sizeable late night bar group with significant potential for further growth in the years ahead and we therefore look to FY 2024 with increased confidence.”

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