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Nightcap eyes major lease expansion for LLC on the back of reduced rents

Published:  16 March, 2021

Hospitality group Nightcap has unveiled ambitious plans to expand London Cocktail Club (LCC), its first and newest acquisition, as the company aims to capitalise on a favourable property market and reduced rents.

Citing “very favourable property market conditions" both in London and nationwide, Nightcap, which is co-founded by investor and ex-BBC ‘Dragon’ Sarah Willingham, is aiming to broaden the estate from its 10 current locations to approximately 40 over the next five years.

The expansion plans were revealed in the group's interim results published this morning. Founded in September last year, up until 31 December 2020, the company said it was essentially a ‘cash shell’, with no acquisitions taking place until the new year and subsequent IPO.

In this morning’s results however, the company said that opportunities in the hospitality sector were "enormous" and even bigger than anticipated.

“In line with our expectations, the damage done to the property and hospitality sectors by the pandemic is giving us access to new sites in prime locations with lower rents, increased incentives and lower capital costs per site than previously experienced,” Willingham, CEO of Nightcap, said.

“We believe that drinks-led hospitality will come back stronger than ever during the second half of 2021, helping us on our mission to be one of the UK’s leading bar groups. On the back of the UK government’s successful vaccine programme and its roadmap to start re-opening hospitality from mid-April onwards, the opportunities for Nightcap are enormous.”

Willingham appeared on Dragon’s Den on the thirteenth and fourteenth series of the show and is known for management of high-street restaurants such as Planet Hollywood and Pizza Express.

In 2021, she co-founded Nightcap in order to support the UK bar and late-night sector. She and other investors are now aiming to build a property pipeline of new sites in prime locations for LCC, which it acquired in January for £5.7m.

Nightcap’s cash position was “strong”, the company said, with £3.75m in the bank and negotiations underway to broker leases for new LCC sites both inside and outside of London.

LCC has also taken steps to re-negotiate its existing property leases. While the locations operated by LCC currently remain closed, five are planned to reopen on 12 April 2021, when guests can be served outdoors. The remaining five are planned to reopen on 17 May 2021, when indoor trading in hospitality venues are due to recommence in line with the current guidance.