Meet the finalists: Best Late Night Operator sponsored by Kopparberg

By The Morning Advertiser

- Last updated on GMT

Fun first: Finalists prove how they nail their late night offer
Fun first: Finalists prove how they nail their late night offer

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The winner of the Best Late Night Operator award will be presented to a company with late licences whose core offer is built around the late-night sector.


Stonegate Group is the UK’s largest pub company and its vast portfolio is home to more than 4,500 sites ranging from leased & tenanted to managed. Well-known brands Popworld, Be at One and Roses feature in its prestigious portfolio.

The company formed in November 2010 following the acquisition of 333 pubs from Mitchell & Butlers. Since then, it has continued to grow, and in March 2020 it purchased Ei Group for £1.27bn. Stonegate’s portfolio is now comprised of 1,289 sites within the managed division and 3,284 leased and tenanted businesses.

Despite last year’s trading challenges, including inflation, Stonegate has prioritised not passing costs onto customers because it believes success happens when you “give people the best experiences at a fair price”.

The Popworld festival was launched last year in Leeds, with live acts including 5ive, Cheeky Girls and Peter Andre. To celebrate Pride, Stonegate also created ‘Icon collateral’ in its LGBTQ+ sites, where teams nominated inspirational people from the community and spotlighted their image, as well as hosting pop-up bars so guests could celebrate Pride in person.

For Stonegate, fun must come first, and there’s a family feel across all sites. Customer experiences are enhanced through initiatives suited to each brand, such as tables teeming with ‘goodies’, a chance to buy merch and colourful décor.

Creating the right atmosphere is key, and entertainment has a local focus where GMs, supported by AMs, take a lead on entertainment. “Freedom in the framework” is key. Events range from charity weekenders, celeb appearances, DJs and themed nights.


Rekom, formally Deltic, which runs nightclubs including the Pryzm and District brands, was bought out of administration at the end of 2020 by the Nordic nightclub group, which operates more than 130 bars and clubs in Norway, Denmark and Finland.

It’s been a strong trading year for the operator, which has continued to invest across the business. Its entertainment offering centres on superb guest entertainment and top-notch production. Entertainment is tailored based on demographics, trends and feedback, and includes a mixture of established and up-and-coming talent.

The safety of staff and customers is taken care of. Its ‘We Care’ scheme has been rebranded and most venues have taxi policies, spiking lids, testing kits and specially trained staff. There are also medical rooms at many sites.

Rekom is constantly striving to improve. Its operating model ensures information is conveyed rapidly throughout the company, with strong chances for career progression. Over the past year, communication among all levels of the business has been prioritised, with guests and staff alike given chances to have a voice and provide feedback to the company.

Revolution Bars Group

Revolution Bars Group, previously known as Inventive Leisure and The New Inventive Bar Company, is a city centre bar chain whose brands trade under the names Revolution and Revolución de Cuba.

It was founded by Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod, who had met in London in the 1980s. It opened its first bar in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1991, with nightclubs and a music venue following soon after. In 1996, it moved away from the previously unbranded bars and clubs to start the Revolution chain, with vodka being featured as the principal product.

Revolución de Cuba was created in 2011 with a focus on rum and Cuba. As well as a vibrant late-night offering, both brands include a diverse food offering with a focus on quality, value for money and plant-based options.

Over the past year, Revolution has ploughed £2m in refurbishments across its seven sites, including ‘Vodka Land’ at the Norwich venue with neon-lit dodgems, and a launch of its ‘Playhouse’ concept in Newcastle-under-Lyme, featuring air hockey and basketball.

What’s more, everything the business does is underpinned by its sustainability strategy – it is the first UK bar business to commit to science-based targets of reaching net zero by 2030, and as part of this initiative has seen the removal of all passionfruit garnishes from its Pornstar Martinis.

All team guests undertake diversity and inclusion training to establish a welcoming environment for guests and colleagues.


Nightcap, a company that’s only 18 months old, has a focus on premium bars and drinks-led hospitality concepts, with brands including The Cocktail Club, Adventure Bar Group and Barrio.

“Live for the now” is a philosophy that underscores the business’s entertainment offering, which is aimed at Gen Z consumers, prioritising high energy, memorable experiences.

Nightcap has made innovations over the past year to cater to changing consumer habits post-pandemic, with late-night guests coming out less but seeking premium ‘experiences’ when they do. Bottomless brunches, daytime parties and drag-hosted karaoke nights are just a few of the events on offer across the sites.

The business also launched the ‘Nightcap Bar Academy’ in Camden, which fast-tracks team development through a two-week bootcamp. Bartenders are trained under the supervision of London Cocktail Club founder JJ Goodman here.

Themed brunches draw in a huge amount of customers. Themes across its sites include Abba, Harry Styles, Beyonce, La Bamba Bingo, Sinister Circus and many more. Each show is a mix of sing-alongs, games, bottomless cocktails, Prosecco and street food.

Other forms of entertainment include DJ-led events or events led by the bar teams themselves, where staff are trained to change the music and swing lights to drive atmosphere.

In 2022, Luna Springs in Digbeth hosted the Midlands’ largest Oktoberfest, a World Cup fan park and also pulled out the stops for a number of summer parties.

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