New bar group Nightcap to list on AIM after London Cocktail Club acquisition

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

New venture: 'we believe there is a unique opportunity brought about by market conditions for Nightcap,' Sarah Willingham said
New venture: 'we believe there is a unique opportunity brought about by market conditions for Nightcap,' Sarah Willingham said

Related tags Pubco + head office Finance Coronavirus Cocktail

A new company led by hospitality entrepreneur and ex-Dragon’s Den investor Sarah Willingham, has unveiled plans to float on AIM after agreeing a deal to acquire the London Cocktail Club’s bar portfolio.

According to an announcement on 13 December, Nightcap will work with the existing London Cocktail Club management team and shareholders to expand the business from 10 sites to a portfolio of 40 across London and other major UK cities in the next five years. 

Founded in 2010 by Sarah Willingham alongside JJ Goodman, Raymond Blanc, David Moore and James Hopkins, London Cocktail Club has grown to 10 sites in London and Bristol.

Nightcap CEO Willingham, will lead the new business off the back of sector experience as co-founder of London Cocktail Club and in roles at PizzaExpress, the Bombay Bicycle Club and Clapham House Group plc. She is also currently an investor in Tonkotsu Group, where she chairs the board. 

The new bar operator’s executive team will also include Toby Rolph – previously of Be At One – as chief financial officer, alongside founder and executive director Michael Toxvaerd, who previously co-founded and led AIM-quoted NeutraHealth plc.  

Continuing to grow

“We are thrilled to be launching our IPO on AIM and to begin our mission of becoming the UK’s leading bar group focussing on brands positioned to thrive in the post-Covid 2020s,” Willingham explained.  

“I’m delighted that London Cocktail Club is our first acquisition. It’s a great business that I know very well – its model is proven, simple and replicable. London Cocktail Club has continued to trade well when we have been allowed to open this year and we believe it has the potential for significant growth as we emerge from the Covid crisis. 

“The company employs some incredible people and I am looking forward to working with them as we continue to grow the business together.

“Over the past decade, London Cocktail Club has carved out its own niche in the capital’s cocktail scene as a place for people to drink amazing cocktails prepared by an award-winning team of bartenders, while in the middle of a party. Its strong performance despite the challenges of this year underscores its appeal to consumers’ desire for a safe, vibrant, party atmosphere and high-quality drinks.”

Next chapter

Allenby Capital is acting as nominated adviser and broker to Nightcap on its initial public offering (IPO).  

Nightcap is targeting a number of institutional investors for the IPO and retail investors will be able to participate directly in the IPO via the Primary Bid platform.  

The company plans to raise up to £6m of new money and is expected to have a post money valuation of at circa £13m, meaning it will be well capitalised to continue its expansion of London Cocktail Club to 40 sites.

The majority of London Cocktail Club’s current shareholders will roll their investment into the new vehicle, including co-founder and head bartender JJ Goodman. 

“I am looking forward to the next chapter for London Cocktail Club,” Goodman said. “I believe this investment is going to help us to grow the business that I co- founded and enable it to reach its full nationwide potential.  

“I’m so excited by our vision for Nightcap and London Cocktail Club, which is why I’ve decided to roll over my shares." 

Unique opportunity

Willingham added: “I couldn’t be prouder of being part of this incredible industry this year. We have had the worst of the worst thrown at us but when we have been allowed to open, we have put a smile on our face and carried on ensuring that our customers have some sense of normality in a safe environment. We are excited about the opportunity to support the bar sector which has taken such a hit during the pandemic. 

“We believe there is a unique opportunity brought about by market conditions for Nightcap, through targeted investment and our collective expertise, to develop and grow fundamentally sound businesses that have had a tough time, are under pressure and may not have sufficient capital to grow.  

“We want to help them get back to doing what they do best – looking after customers, opening new sites, and giving great people meaningful careers and development opportunities. Ultimately we want to help create more fantastic venues for customers to embrace and enjoy as we emerge from the Covid crisis.”

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