A deep dive into Nightcap’s acquisition trail

By Nikkie Thatcher contact

- Last updated on GMT

Multiple operator: Nightcap CEO Sarah Willingham founded the business two years ago
Multiple operator: Nightcap CEO Sarah Willingham founded the business two years ago

Related tags: Multi-site pub operators, Nightcap, Finance, Property

Multiple operator Nightcap has hit the acquisition trail hard, buying up a number of sites over the past 12 months, taking it to a 33-strong estate at present, with an additional 23 under offer or in legal negotiations.

According to its website, the company’s strategy is “focused on easy to replicate, scalable business models with nationwide rollout potential”.

Furthermore, it states the firm’s “aim is to capitalise on this compelling opportunity to build a major drinks-led hospitality group”.

Founded by former Dragon’s Den ​investor Sarah Willingham in 2020, Nightcap’s first acquisition was London Cocktail Club​ – an initial purchase of £5.7m.

Just last year and in the midst of the pandemic (March), the company announced plans to grow to 40 London Cocktail Club sites​ over the following five years

This was then followed by the acquisition of Adventure Bar Group in May of the same year. The deal, which was completed for an undisclosed sum, came as Nightcap pushed its growth from nine sites up to 40 in cities nationwide.

The purchase of Adventure Bar​ comprised an initial consideration of £1m payable in new Nightcap shares on completion and up to £1.5m of deferred consideration, payable in new Nightcap shares, dependent on the financial performance of Adventure Bar post-acquisition.

Trio of sites

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In addition, it went on to raise £10m through a share placing​ in order to further its investment strategy and roll out the acquisition.

A trading update in August last year revealed the securing of a new London Cocktail Club venue in Bristol alongside the fact the group was at various stages of legal negotiations on a further five venues, across several of its brands.

At that time, Willingham said: “I am delighted to announce the first of several new sites for London Cocktail Club​.”

The Bristol venue was then part of a trio of sites​ that were unveiled towards the end of 2021 including fellow London Cocktail Club premises in Reading​ and central London​.

Before last year ended (November), the group went on to acquire another collection of sites – Barrio Familia – expanding Nightcap’s portfolio by five additional bars​.

This included four Latin American-inspired, Tequila-led cocktail bars in London, trading under the Barrio brand alongside a 60s themed members’ cocktail bar, trading under the Disrepute brand in Soho.

As a restriction-free 2022 began, Nightcap revealed plans to open its fourth The Cocktail Club in Exeter after it previously stated a Tonight Josephine was set to open in Cardiff.

The two openings were in addition to the company’s then 27 sites and it confirmed there were a further 24 venues​ under offer or in legal negotiations.

Innovation commitment

Cardiff was also the location the company revealed it would be opening a The Cocktail Club site​ as well, in early May.

This arm of the business was also bolstered just this month (April) with the announcement it will be reaching 16 sites due to the opening of a flagship venue in Birmingham​ later this year.

Also this month, the firm revealed it is set to open a Tonight Josephine in Liverpool​ as this brand’s sixth UK site.

Most recently, the rapidly expanding group revealed a Blame Gloria venue, which sits under the Adventure Bar Group umbrella, will be opening in Bristol​.

On the company’s speedy growth since conception, Nightcap CEO Sarah Willingham said: “Our commitment to innovation has been the driving force behind Nightcap’s success.

“The pandemic was the most difficult time ever experienced by the hospitality industry and therefore, once we could open our doors again, we knew competition would be fierce but our instincts knew people were ready to go out.

“We wanted to offer our customers experiences they couldn’t find anywhere else, which is why we decided to open all our late-night bars for brunch.

“The response has been phenomenal and with our amazing teams and company growing in the past year alone, expect to see more exciting offerings from us soon.”

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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