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Tue 19th Apr 2022 - Rekom – appetite for nights out is as high as ever, people going out earlier, acquires Southampton business
Rekom – appetite for nights out is as high as ever, people going out earlier, acquires Southampton business: Peter Marks, executive chairman of Rekom UK, the UK’s largest nightclub operator, has told Propel the British public’s appetite for nights out is as high as ever, with people going out earlier and net spend per head increasing. According to the company’s latest Night Index, which sampled 2,358 over-18s from 15-21 March 2022, average consumer spend, frequency and duration of nights out remains robust, based on a three-year comparison. It found Brits are spending £68.03 when on a night out (March 2019: £68.68), with the night lasting four hours and 17 minutes on average (March 2019: 4 hours 35 minutes). It also found people are going out exactly as often as they did pre-pandemic, with people reporting 1.2 times a week for March 2022 and 2019 alike. Unsurprisingly, following the extended periods of covid-19 related restrictions on clubs and bars, two thirds (66.3%) of those polled said they are keen to go out more to those venues that were shut for a long period because of the pandemic. This figure jumps to more than 80% among 18 to 21-year-olds. Not only that, more than a third (33.4%) of Brits – and just under half (44.6%) of 18-24-year-olds – feel they were unfairly restricted from going out during covid-19 and could not wait to get back to clubs and bars after missing out during the pandemic. Spending time with friends (65.9%) was revealed to be the most popular reason for going on a night out, with the next being to relieve stress (23.6%) and to enjoy shared experiences (23.1%). Interestingly, going out to meet a partner was lower down the priority list, with just 5.7% saying this was important. More than half of those surveyed (56.4%) agreed going to nightclubs is an integral part of growing up. Furthermore, two fifths (40.1%) said going out to nightclubs plays a crucial role in developing social skills as they move into adulthood. More than a third of consumers polled (36.7%) said going out to nightclubs is helpful in learning to socialise as an adult in a controlled environment. Regarding spend breakdown on a night out, the amount spent on pre-drinks increased very slightly on March 2019 figures, to £11.42 (from £11.31). Spend on in-venue drinks increased to £19.56 (March 2019: £19.25), while spend on food decreased most, by 3.1%, to £15.70. Just over 44% said they are much more enthusiastic about going out to venues like clubs and festivals because they missed out on this during the covid-19 pandemic. This rises to 60.7% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 47.4% of 25 to 34-year-olds. Just under 70% said their priorities, considerations and behaviours when going on a late night out have changed since the pandemic. The largest influence on a night out was distance from home (20.4%), while 19% said type of music was most important, and 17.6% said affordable pricing. The index found women are more cost conscious, with 18.7% agreeing this is the most important factor compared with 16.2% of men. Marks told Propel: “There is a little bit of caution in me, that says ‘how long is it going to last?’ but at the moment there is no sign it is going to fall away. The thing for us is that it is not about volume through the doors, which spiked big time in July and August but then settled down, it's about the fact people are going to nightclubs earlier. People are coming out and enjoying the town centres better and that’s what we have really noticed. We are delighted by what we are seeing. I'm cautiously optimistic and that's where I remain. The other thing is what we've seen ourselves in our own business, and that's not in the survey, but we know tour spend per head is up from around £15 net to about £18.50, which makes a huge difference and that's because people are coming one hour earlier. That's the big thing for us. That’s not to say we haven’t had some bumps in the road, but generally speaking everywhere is pretty good.” Marks said the work the business carried out before and during the pandemic, and the work it has done on its estate since being acquired by Rekom at the end of 2020 was “now paying off”. He told Propel: “A lot of people forget that while we were closed, we didn't think we weren't going to open, so we carried on working on our strategy, on our ticketing platform, on our marketing, our social media, new ways of doing things. We had a project called Project New World. It started in January 2020, and we didn't stop it. We carried on working and then of course we got to August having spent whatever it was, probably £100,000 a month on the team to be doing this, and then hey presto looks like we are not going to be reopening and the government's not going to give us any money. So, we did a lot of planning. And I do think we are better operationally now. If you talk to a lot of people, they will say, actually, we got a lot of strategic work done while we were locked down and we are in a better position, we certainly are.” On rising costs, Marks said they have got to be passed on. He said: “I am involved in three companies, not just Rekom, and I told them all you got to put the prices up or remove the discount or a combination of both of those really cautiously. And make sure that your staff know why you have done that if customers ask. But actually, there's been no hassle, there's been no problems because everybody's expecting it.” Marks said the group’s first site in the UK under the Heidi's Bier Bar concept, which recently opened in Cardiff, was “absolutely flying”. He said: “It is a brilliant concept. The quality of the fit out is exceptional, no corners have been cut.” A further Heidi’s is set to open in Birmingham, while the first Proud Mary site in the UK, will open later this summer in Swansea. In terms of further openings, Marks said: “We are looking all the time. I have got one in the pipeline and maybe another one set to be added to the pipeline.” The company has also completed the acquisition of the Switch nightclub business in Southampton. It had previously bought a stake in the business last year, and completed a deal for the rest a few weeks ago. Marks said: “It is trading well, so at the moment we won't look to change anything, but we can see a time when eventually it will either become an Atik or a Pryzm.”

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