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Sat 8th Nov 2014 - Luminar buys Chicago Leisure
Luminar buys Chicago Leisure: The UK’s largest nightclub operator, The Luminar Group has acquired Chicago Leisure for an undisclosed sum. In its first major deal since its formation in December 2011, The Luminar Group has agreed to purchase the company, which operates eight venues nationwide under the Chicago Rock Café and Chicago brands. Commenting on the acquisition, The Luminar Group’s chief executive Peter Marks said: “Tactical acquisitions has always been part of our strategy and Chicago Leisure is an ideal fit with our business. It will allow us to diversify our offer into the wider late night market, giving us a broader customer appeal.” Formed in 2013 after Atmosphere Pubs & Bars went into administration, Chicago Leisure recently reported a 60% sales increase at its new-look trading format in Yeovil. “These are great sites in strong venues which complement our existing portfolio. They’re all about providing great food, drink, music and entertainment and will be a strong addition to our existing portfolio. We’re looking forward to welcoming the Chicago Leisure team to Luminar and working with them to further develop the brand,” added Marks. Luminar currently operates a total 53 nightclubs nationwide and was voted the 2014 Best Late Night Operator at the prestigious Publican Awards.

Propel Opinion by Paul Charity: The acquisition of Chicago Leisure by Luminar reunites the nightclub operator with the brand that was the cornerstone of its early success under founder Stephen Thomas. The company opened the first Chicago Rock Café in a former pub in King’s Lynn, Norfolk in 1990 before expanding it throughout the 1990s as its lead brand. It was a victim in the 2000s of the liberalisation of licensing hours, which saw its post-11pm trading position undermined. The brand has shrunk to just eight sites but its original formula as an entertainment venue offering mainstream classic music in a US-styled environment still holds broad appeal. Luminar chief executive Peter Marks has spoken of his desire also to re-invent the live-music duelling piano bar formula at Chicago Rock sister venue Jumpin’ Jacks, also originally out of the Luminar stable. Might the Chicago Rock Café brand be a good testing ground? Certainly, an up-dated Chicago Rock brand is the perfect vehicle for opening in towns and even cities unsuited to the traditional large capacity shed nightclub.

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