The company celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2011 and reported turnover for the year of more than £11m. Now the group has revealed it has ambitions to open five further sites by 2014, three of which will open this year, and double its portfolio over the next five years.
Bars will open in 2012 in Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham after the latest opening in April on Liverpool's Victoria Street. The company now operates three Merseyside venues after launching in Liverpool in 1991 plus four more in Manchester and one in Nottingham.
Organic to strategic
The Baa Bar group has been credited with leading the growing bar scene in the North West after its eponymous bars and the Modo venues became successful in the early nineties.
“A lot has changed in the industry in 21 years and we’ve seen it all," Elaine Clarke, the chief executive who first joined the group as a bar manager, said. "At the time we opened, bars just didn’t have the popularity in the North as they did in the South, but we spotted an emerging trend and went for it.
"Since then, the bar scene has changed the night-time economy dramatically. In a climate where pubs and bars are under significant strain, we’re incredibly proud to have achieved all we have so far and to be still expanding 21 years down the line. Baa Bar’s growth over the past two decades been organic but it has now developed into a very strategic expansion,” she added.
The ambitious expansion strategy is led by group chairman and Millie's Cookies founder Richard O’Sullivan who is also chairman of another expanding North West-based chain - Barburrito.
O'Sullivan said the success of the brand was down to its affordable and customer-focused image, its ability to adapt and the fact it was still viewed as an independent operator in a heavily branded market.
"I joined the board in 2006 shortly after the business had been floated. It’s a credit to the team and our customer’s loyalty that Baa Bar has proven to be so resilient through the last 4 years of economic challenge. This is also in no small measure down to the support of Yorkshire Bank who continued to show faith in us, despite the constant challenges faced by the sector,” he said.
"We aim to double the number of operations to 20 venues over the next 5 years, maintaining our “independent” feel while opening in new cities where our customers are keen to see us," O'Sullivan added.