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Bar owner Nightcap boasts of record sales weeks at multiple venues

Bar group Nightcap has claimed that it is largely bypassing supply chain issues affecting the hospitality sector as it declared its establishments were enjoying a roaring trade.

The company, whose chief executive is former Dragons Den star Sarah Willingham, said the majority of its sites had achieved weekly sales records following the end of lockdown restrictions on hospitality venues in mid-July.

It added that venues based in or around the City of London financial district are trading ‘better than ever’ thanks to a spike in commuters travelling to work in city centres since the start of September.

Good times: Nightcap, whose chief executive is former Dragons Den star Sarah Willingham (left), said the majority of its sites had recently achieved weekly sales records

Going into the busy winter period, the firm believes it will continue to see more records set and said it had acquired all the necessary stock, including bottled beer and cocktail ingredients, to serve patrons adequately.

As has been the case throughout much of the night-time sector, the group admitted that both it and its supplier partners were struggling to hire new staff and warned this would likely result in increased labour costs.

But it is confident of attracting new staff as other hospitality venues close their doors and is expanding its portfolio partly due to this optimism.

Nightcap has been on a major expansion spree since its public listing on the London AIM exchange in January this year, buying up The Cocktail Club and the Adventure Bar Group’s collection of sites, many of which are in prime urban locations.

It hopes to quadruple the number of its Cocktail Club sites over the next four years, and, between August and September, it also joined leases for new locations in Reading, the City of London, and Bristol.

The group is trying to take advantage of a much weaker commercial property market and the exit of many competitors to acquire new sites on much more favourable financial terms and renegotiate rent arrangements.

Celebration time: Nightcap hopes to quadruple the number of its Cocktail Club sites over the next four years and recently joined leases for new locations in three UK cities

Celebration time: Nightcap hopes to quadruple the number of its Cocktail Club sites over the next four years and recently joined leases for new locations in three UK cities

Since the pandemic started, it has also availed itself of various UK Government support measures, including the furlough scheme, business rates relief and salary cuts for senior directors to provide a further boost. 

Chairman Gareth Roberts said: ‘For the foreseeable future, the COVID restrictions have been lifted, and COVID vaccination boosters are being offered, so we can approach the end of the year with optimism.

‘However, the last 18 months have shown us that nothing can be taken for granted, and the executive team has honed its ability to respond to new challenges quickly and effectively.’

Hospitality has been one of the worst affected sectors by the pandemic, incurring around 660,000 job losses in 2020 alone, according to data software provider Fourth.

Raising a toast: Britons have returned in considerable numbers to pubs, bars and restaurants since the lockdown ended, thereby mitigating some of the damage caused by the coronavirus

Raising a toast: Britons have returned in considerable numbers to pubs, bars and restaurants since the lockdown ended, thereby mitigating some of the damage caused by the coronavirus

Venues in England were forced to close during national lockdown periods due to their non-essential status, sometimes for months at a time. Those without outdoor seating also had to shut for longer because indoor dining was banned until 17 May.

Additional harm was inflicted on the sector when the UK Government announced in June that restrictions would remain for another month following the spread of the Delta variant.

Britons have returned in considerable numbers to pubs, bars and restaurants since then, thereby helping to mitigate some of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus.

But shortages of staff, HGV drivers and carbon dioxide have caused major impacts, though Nightcap said it has not been affected so much by the latter as most of its drinks are non-carbonated. 

Sarah Willingham added: ‘There are evidently still some challenges facing both the UK economy and the hospitality industry and it is difficult to predict the exact timing and profile of the recovery and whether any setbacks will occur. 

‘That said, whilst there are no guarantees that our bars will not be subject to further interruptions from COVID-19 related restrictions from future waves of infection, the business is trading strongly and is well positioned for growth.’

Shares in Nightcap were 5.6 per cent down at 20.3p during the late morning today.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk