Eclectic Clubs & Bars, the Avanti Capital-backed operator, is developing a third strand to its operations with plans to launch a new cocktail bar brand called Dirty Blonde, M&C Report has learnt. Chief executive Reuben Harley told M&C Report that the plan is for the sites to serve around 40 styles of cocktail and typically trade until 1am or 2am. “We’ve been targeting London. We’re looking at several sites,” said Harley. “We are [also] looking at Brighton, Leeds and Manchester.” Harley said the concept, which is named after a type of cocktail, would be an “easy fit” for Eclectic, complementing other elements of the business including the restaurant/bar brand Living Room, and Ultimate Leisure, its late-night bar and nightclub arm. He added that cocktails now account for 25% of drink sales and have risen considerably; seven years ago cocktail sales weren’t even measured. In terms of expansion, he said: “Eclectic is currently looking at four sites across the UK. We’ve got funding in place with Barclays that enables us to purchase three to four businesses per year.” Meanwhile, Harley revealed that Eclectic aims to develop a bar academy across the group. The plan is to develop a one-day course, to run at Eclectic outlets in Oxford, Cambridge and Newcastle, followed by four modules that could be completed over a period of up to two years. Harley said it would be a “university of bar tending”. “The bar skills within the business are really good. What we’ve looked to do is cultivate that across the Eclectic Group.” Harley hopes to secure some funding from for the project from brand owners. In the summer Eclectic took control of the 33-strong PBR Leisure business from Orchid Group. The business includes Living Room, and Harley told M&C Report that the company plans to undertake consumer research into customers’ perceptions of the brand in the new year. He said the new winter menu for Living Room includes higher-quality steaks and a better selection of breads.