Luminar embarks on ambitious expansion

Related tags Nightclub

Bar operator Luminar Leisure has snapped up a package of outlets as part of its ambitious expansion plans.It has completed a £3.7m acquisition of...

Bar operator Luminar Leisure has snapped up a package of outlets as part of its ambitious expansion plans.

It has completed a £3.7m acquisition of three nightclubs and two former sites in Rank's Jumpin' Jaks chain of live entertainment bars.

But chief executive Steve Thomas has also revealed to bar and club trade magazine Town & City that he is considering a future takeover of rival Northern Leisure — the UK's biggest nightclub operator with 60 outlets.

If Luminar went ahead with buying Northern, it could mean clubs being converted to Luminar's successful Chicago Rock Café drinking, dining and dancing formula.

"I'm not saying I'm not interested in Northern Leisure — just not at this time," Thomas told Town & City.

"I'm a great admirer of it but, if we were to acquire that business, we would end up with another 60 nightclubs and we've got 30 now so the focus of the business would become clubs, which I don't think is a good idea."

Thomas last month won accolades from the industry when he was voted Retailers' Retailer of the Year in a survey of 5,000 executives across the leisure industry.

This month he has also taken over as chairman of the British Entertainment and Disco Association, the trade body that campaigns on behalf of the nightclub sector.

Northern Leisure is continuing to expand at an average rate of one new site a month, heading for a national estate of more than 200.

The units are mainly in small and medium-sized towns, with the average customer spend only £7.26 a night.

Last year Northern's board rejected a bid from an unnamed buyer, believed to be Allied Domecq, Bass or Scottish & Newcastle.

But founder director Nick Oppenheim said the board would have been happy to look at any offer that reflected the company's worth.

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