The man who founded Soho House remains unconcerned that his posh clubs will be affected by the economic downturn. The recession doesn’t scare Nick Jones.
UK’s Times Online: Soho House, the first club (not to be confused with a nightclub), opened in 1995. Thirteen years on, he and his wife, Kirsty Young, are a golden couple who rank high on “social London” lists, and there are six Houses, including the Electric in Notting Hill; he also does special “pop-ups” for the Oscars in Los Angeles and elsewhere. He employs 1,500 staff, and as the business expands the challenge is to achieve quantity without losing quality, without losing any of the essence of what makes it work. Having cracked the East Coast of America with Soho House New York, he is set to open clubs in LA, Miami, Chicago and Berlin in 2009 and 2010. All will have rooftop pools and all will be aimed at the creative industries. His empire is worth £105m to £110m now. “If everything works, we’ll double that.”
…”You try never to be in fashion,” says Jones. “It’s been five years. The figures are great and the crowd seems happy. They get asked every year if they want to renew, and 95% of them do. We’re not immune to recession, but we’re lucky that a lot of our customers are not directly affected.” The big-bonus City boys who now find themselves out on their ears were not members in the first place. Nonetheless, challenging times lie ahead. Already, he says, “Food costs are up and you can’t just pass that onto the customer — they’ll tell you to f*** off.” But the signs are good. Shoreditch House’s takings are 12% up on last year, for example.
…He would not be afraid to cut his losses where necessary. But he has ploughed vast amounts of (mostly other people’s) money into the forthcoming American projects. The pressure is on. How much does he stand to lose if LA fails? “Well, ah, it depends what the day-to-day losses are against the capital losses, and the capital losses you might retrieve by selling the lease onto someone else… but it would be millions. Millions of dollars.”
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