Novus, which entered into acquisition talks in January, bought 17 of the 19 Balls Brothers bars for a fee that could exceed £7.8m. Of these, 14 bars are located in the City of London, one is in Victoria, one in Brooke Street in the West End and the last in Hay’s Galleria.
Six of the sites being acquired are former Lewis & Clarke bars, whereas the remaining 11 trade under the Balls Brothers brand.
Balls Brothers modernisation
Novus, a privately-owned firm led by Steve Richards, says that it will eventually look to “contemporise” Balls Brothers by broadening its appeal to make it more relevant to a wider customer base of City professionals. The group plans to refurbish sites, modernise the menu and drinks offering, and extend “trading occasions”.
Novus also plans to go after more pre-booked corporate events and private parties. It is mainly targeting affluent professionals in their 30s.
Steve Richards, Novus Leisure CEO, said the acquisition is a good fit for the group in light of its expansion plans for London.
“We are keen to continue extending our footprint and capacity in the buoyant London market,” he said.
“These sites play to our strengths and we see significant potential to leverage our sales and marketing expertise to Balls Brothers customers whilst contemporising the offer of this heritage brand.”
Novus Leisure portfolio
Novus currently operates 38 sites. Located mainly in London’s West End and City districts.
Venues in its portfolio include Grace, Jewel, Strawberry Moons and Loop, Bar Soho in W1 and Abacus, Kanaloa and Abbey in the City, as well as the Tiger Tiger brand in several regional cities nationwide.
The group said that although the acquired bars are smaller than its existing venues, they are a similar size to its more premium bars, which include sites such as Jewel Piccadilly and Babble in Berkley Square.
Novus will use its centralised booking system, sales force and existing customer database to boost the businesses and add significant footfall.
The properties were all acquired leasehold, for a £4.65 fee on completion, with a future £3.2m deferred and payable on successful resolution of landlord and property matters.
Zolfo Cooper acted as administrator to Balls Brothers, with TLT acting as legal advisor to Zolfo Cooper. Kimbells Solicitors acted as buy side property and commercial advisors.