Deltic Group is to bring in caterers to add food to its packages for Christmas parties and has also revamped its menu at its fledgling Bar & Beyond estate.
Chief financial officer Russell Margerrison has told MCA that the group was still keen to expand Bar & Beyond but would focus on its £8m investment programme in its nightclub estate for the rest of this year.
He said it was still the intention to convert more sites from the remaining six Chicago Leisure portfolio, but said many of these were performing strongly and could be retained as standalone units or converted to a separate brand.
He said that the group would continue to evaluate further acquisition opportunities and said that its conversion of Birmingham’s iconic Gatecrasher into a Pryzm earlier this year had exceeded expectations.
He said the group had traded marginally up on last year in the first half of its year to the end of August but stressed that most of the key trading peaks were in the second half.
He said he hoped Deltic’s investment in its estate could counter-balance some of the more negative headlines being generated by the recent closure of Fabric.
He said: “This sector is far from dead and that’s a message myself and Peter (Marks, chief executive) have been pushing for many years. Certainly there have been changes in the way people use nightclubs but there is still an appetite to go out. We’re just into Freshers and I see no sign that this year’s 18-year-olds don’t want to go out.”
Margerrison said the group continued to see a resurgence in the over-30s market but said it was driven by occasions.
He said: “A big driver for that market is hen and stag dos. People are getting married and want to recreate their youth so they visit a nightclub.”
On preparation for the key trading period of Christmas, he said: “We are doing more on the pre-booked sales front. For Christmas we will do more parties because we are better organised and we will be bringing in caterers at some point. At Bar & Beyond we are already serving food so we have that facility for parties already in place.
“In Bar & Beyond we have just relaunched our food and menus in general and that side of things is beginning to pick up. It was never going to be massive from day one because we had venues known for being late-night that are suddenly changing their model in terms of both opening times and the offer.”
On future development for Bar & Beyond, Margerrison said: “The focus at the moment is on the big investments we have announced this week but we hope to be on site with another Bar & Beyond at the start of next year.
“There’s a limit to how many sites we can convert from the current estate. The ultimate potential will be dictated by that.”