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Fri 27th Aug 2021 - Soho House reduces losses as it plans six openings this year
Soho House reduces losses as it plans six openings this year: Soho House owner Membership Collective Group (MCG) has said it will soon be “firing on all cylinders” and plans to open a total of six sites this year. The company reported total revenues were $124m in the quarter to 4 July, up 118 per cent compared with the same period last year, when the majority of its sites were closed. Net losses narrowed from $77.8m to $57.1m, as members paid more for rooms, particularly in resort-type locations. Nick Jones, MCG’s chief executive, said the waiting list for membership to Soho House had reached “record highs” with 63,700 applications. But he noted that the group had taken “a cautious approach” to accepting new members to allow for coronavirus-related social distancing in its clubs and hotels. Only 600 people were inducted during the quarter. Revenues from memberships were flat at $45m compared with the same period in 2020, but the number of members who had frozen their accounts fell from 16,500 in the first quarter of 2021 to 10,800 at the end of the second quarter, as clubs slowly reopened following lockdowns. The company has benefited from a burst of demand from existing members however, with average daily rates across its portfolio up between ten and 15%. Prices at its Miami Beach house and Oxfordshire farmhouse were also higher than in 2019. Occupancy has reached 63 per cent across its sites, compared to about 95 per cent at the end of 2019. Andrew Carnie, president of MCG, said the company was “super focused on managing the cost side of the business”, but he was “quite confident [that] by [the] end of Q3 if restrictions don’t increase and things don’t change too much we should be firing on all cylinders”. The group listed in New York in July but fell $48m short of a $450m target to support its rapid expansion plans and pay down $98m worth of debt. The group expects to be cash flow positive by the end of 2022. It opened two Soho House sites in London and Austin, Texas, during the quarter and is set to open clubs in Tel Aviv, Paris, Rome and Brighton this year. At present, it operates 30 “houses” in 12 countries. Despite slowing the growth of its core Soho House memberships, it has continued to add members to its other brands. This includes co-working business Soho Works and interior decoration line Soho Home, which added a combined 8,000 new members during the quarter. MCG said occupancy at its Soho Works sites had increased to more than 80 per cent as pandemic restrictions were relaxed.

Loungers and better burger brand Hub Box to share Worthing site: Loungers and better burger brand Hub Box are to occupy the high profile beach shelter in Worthing, which is 400 metres west of the pier. Permission to transform the shelter, which sits opposite the Marine Parade and West Buildings junction in Worthing, into a two-storey French restaurant was granted in November, 2019 – due to be occupied by Bistrot Pierre. However, ‘due to the impacts of the pandemic on the hospitality industry’ owner Nextcolour says it wants to house two different restaurants on the site instead of one. The developer has now ‘pre-let’ the site to Loungers and Hub Box, which will share the building. Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee has given permission for the amended plans to go ahead subject to more details being provided in the future.

Classic car dealer opens Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in north London: Classic car dealer Paul Michaels has opened a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Highgate, north London. The Engine Rooms restaurant in Great North Road comprises a car dealership, The Engine Rooms restaurant and a modern art collection, alongside Bert Blaize’s successful Bottles ’n’ Jars wine shop. Head chef James Harrison, formally of Taka Marylebone, is running the open-plan kitchen, with a regularly changing menu of Mediterranean dishes while using seasonal British ingredients with a focus on fish and vegetables. Mains include grey mullet ceviche with confit tomato dressing, cured egg yolk, samphire and pistachio; salt marsh Cornish lamb rack, toasted fregola, peas, broad beans, green sauce, rosemary cooking jus; and a vegan mandilli pasta with wild garlic dressing, Westcombe salted ricotta, white and green asparagus, broad beans, snow peas and toasted pine nuts. An all-day menu also includes salads and stone-baked pizza. Head of pastry Darren Cafferty, who worked at Brown’s Hotel, Trinity in Clapham and Roux at Parliament Square, has created seasonal desserts including apricot frangipane pudding with orange blossom Breton, apricot jam, pistachio and jersey clotted cream; and pistachio cream mille-feuille with pistachio and walnut baklava bites, candied walnuts, sherbet orange peel and crispy cinnamon pastry. Blaize, who was a sommelier at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and The Clove Club in Shoreditch, has curated the wine list.

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