Speaking at the Casual Dining Show in London yesterday, Alex Reilley said he was hoping to open 25 locations a year – roughly one site every two weeks.
Loungers was co-founded by Reilley in Bristol in 2002 and has since grown to 142 sites under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands. It has been backed by private equity firm Lion Capital since 2016.
Reilley said he saw potential for 400 Lounges and 100 Cosy Club locations across the UK, but added this was a “conservative” estimate given the success of the company’ strategy of taking on cheaper sites in smaller towns.
He said: “In terms of scale we can certainly break in to multiple hundreds. We’re in locations where JD Wetherspoon and even Costa aren’t yet.
“Growth is quite addictive if you’re getting it right. I think we’ve always been quite addicted and consequently we’re reached a much bigger scale than anticipated.”
Though Loungers has a site in Orpington, Greater London, Reiley said the high costs of opening more centrally meant it was unlikely the company would ever venture further in to the capital.
“Our average rent for a Lounge is probably £55,000-£60,000 a year, and £100,000 for a Cosy Club. I don’t think you’ll ever see us in Zones 1 or 2…a lot of Lounges will potentially pop up in the Greater London suburbs. It’s not that we’re worried about London but we see so much other opportunity elsewhere."
Reilley added that Loungers was constantly “looking to improve” its offer with a “rigour” that meant the group was unfazed by competition in the market.
“We don’t allow our operators to use competition as an excuse [for poor trading]. We believe we are better than [the competition]. That’s not an arrogance, it’s a mentality and we’ve got a winning mentality. We don’t want to lose. We don’t accept losing.”