Inception Group targets expansion

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Thought

Duncan Stirling and Charlie Gilkes of Inception Group
Duncan Stirling and Charlie Gilkes of Inception Group
Inception Group, the London bar and restaurant operator, is looking to branch out into opening multiple sites under its existing brands and could open outside the capital, and potentially overseas, co-founder Charlie Gilkes has told our sister title M&C Report.

The group is set to reach seven outlets by the summer with the opening of the Brazilian-themed Cocobananas in Battersea and Beaver Lodge, a 'mountain cabin and dance saloon' in Chelsea. The company’s 'interim ambition' is to grow from a business of five sites and a turnover of £10m to a 10-strong operator with twice the turnover, said Gilkes. “Hopefully we can go beyond that.

“We are getting to a point now where we do want to do multiples of some of the sites. The one we’ve really earmarked is Bunga Bunga, which is the largest volume business.”  That site, in Battersea, has annual turnover of more than £3m, he pointed out.

“It can work very well in the West End, it can work very well in the City, and we also think it could work well in university towns.”

He said Inception would also consider opening more sites under the Mr Fogg’s concept in Mayfair.

Looking abroad

Regarding overseas opportunities, Gilkes said: “If the right management contract opportunity arose for us to either take one existing concept abroad or develop a new concept on a management agreement basis, like Mahiki in has done in Dubai, like Eclipse has done in Barcelona, it’s something that would interest us.”

The group, which was founded in 2009 with the opening of Barts, a speakeasy-style bar in Chelsea, is currently self-funded and owned equally by Gilkes and fellow co-founder Duncan Stirling. Gilkes said the company would be “open to exploring other funding options as and when we needed it”.

“But I think for now we quite like the control we have, and the fact the decisions can be made very quickly because there are only two of us.”

“But it’s certainly something we would consider for the future especially if there was a project on a much larger scale.”

South American vibe

Cocobananas on Howie Street, set over two floors, has decor that includes vintage surfboards, palm trees, distressed plantation shutters, and a reproduction of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer Statue. There’s an upstairs caipirinha bar and cocktails will form a key part of the drinks offer. Brazilian street food will be served.

Gilkes told M&C Report: “In terms of the drink and food offer it works very well. The site is adjacent to Bunga Bunga, so we thought it would go hand in hand.

“We’ve never done a concept that’s South American and we felt it was a good fit.”

This story was first published by M&C Report. To subscribe to M&C Report, contact Emily Croft on 01293 846578 or email emily.croft@wrbm.com. 

Related topics: Business, Venues, Restaurants, Pubs & Bars

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