Train strikes hit trade at Nightcap, revenue up 42.7% in FY23

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Revenue up: Sarah Willingham is delighted with the acquisition of Dirty Martini bars (credit: Nicky Johnston)
Revenue up: Sarah Willingham is delighted with the acquisition of Dirty Martini bars (credit: Nicky Johnston)

Related tags Finance Multi-site pub operators Nightcap Property Sarah Willingham

Current trade at Nightcap has been hit by rail strikes and warm weather but revenue in its financial year to July has risen by 42.7%.

The Sarah Willingham-led bars group that encompasses The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group, Barrio Familia and Dirty Martini brands has reported revenue at £46.4m (FY22: £35.9m), a £4.9m loss before tax (FY22: £0.2m) and net assets worth £14.5m (FY22: £16.2m) in the 52 weeks ended 2 July 2023.

Nightcap CEO Willingham said: “At Nightcap we believe everyone deserves a great night out and with this belief at our core, we are fast becoming one of the UK’s leading bar groups.

“During the year, we grew our revenue by 29% from £35.9m to £46.4m while increasing the number of bars we operate from 31 to 46.

“Unaudited Group revenue was £14.7m for the 13 weeks ended 1 October 2023 (Q1 FY24) resulting in a 42.7% increase compared to group revenue of £10.3m for the equivalent period in FY23.”

Important Christmas period

She continued: “While trading in October 2023 has continued on the same trend as Q1 FY24, we are focusing on the important Christmas period. Christmas bookings and enquiries across the whole estate including Dirty Martini are in line with the strong 2022 Christmas period.”

Meanwhile, trading in the first 13 weeks of the new financial year (period to 1 October 2023) has been adversely impacted by September’s record warm weather, the ongoing cost of living crisis and significant train strikes deliberately targeting payday weekends to cause maximum damage.

Willingham said: “Revenue for this 13-week period represents a 16.7% like-for-like decrease compared to the equivalent period for FY23, mostly caused by additional rail strikes and extremely warm weather throughout September.”

However, Warm weather in September (which reduced the demand for socialising in basement bars) led to record weeks at its outdoor venues, Bar Elba and, in particular, Luna Springs, which had its strongest summer yet, as customers enjoyed its large outdoor spaces.

Dirty Martini acquisition

Willingham labelled the acquisition of Dirty Martini bars in June 2023 an “incredible achievement”, which has brought the total number of bars in the group portfolio from 31 to 46.

She said: “Dirty Martini was acquired out of administration and I am very pleased with how quickly the business has been integrated, considering the complexity of the acquisition. We are delighted with how Dirty Martini has settled into the Nightcap family alongside our The Cocktail Club, Tonight Josephine, Blame Gloria and Barrio brands.”

The board remains cautious about near-term future trading due to the challenges presented by continuing train strikes.

Willingham added: “The Nightcap estate is of a higher quality, better operated and with better trained and more engaged teams than ever before. We therefore remain optimistic about the future potential of the group and remain excited about building the UK’s leading bar group.”

The group’s balance sheet remains strong and as of 1 October 2023, cash at the bank was £2.6m with bank debt of £9.1m prior to entering “the important and lucrative” Christmas period.

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