Publican Awards 2024 Business Leader of the Year winner, sponsored by Poppleston Allen: Alex Reilley

By The Morning Advertiser

- Last updated on GMT

Publican Awards 2024 Business Leader of the Year winner

Related tags Events Publican awards Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office

It was in August 2002 when three friends, Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid, opened their first Lounge venue, in Bedminster, Bristol.

It is now one of the most successful bar groups in the country with over 250 sites including 213 of its Lounge concept, Cosy Club venues and Brightside, with Reilley at the helm.

During a year out after A-levels both Reilley and his friend Reid started work at a Holiday Inn. The work didn’t suit Reilley who moved on to wait tables at The Case, a high-end restaurant and champagne bar in Leicester city centre.

Experienced operator

It was when Reilley was working as operations manager at 250-cover venue Byzantium in Bristol and its three sister sites when Reid returned from travelling and they decided to open their own bar. All three friends put money in to open their first site, a neighbourhood café-bar combining the elements of a restaurant, pub and coffee shop.

It proved successful and they kept adding one site per year and in 2006, with five sites in Bristol, decided to take the brand further afield to other cities.

Reilley became managing director in 2008, and by 2012 Piper Private Equity had acquired a minority stake in the company. Only three years later in 2015 Reilley became executive vice-chairman. The following year Lion Capital acquired a majority stake in the group, Piper Private Equity exited its investment and Alex Reilley took on the role of executive chairman.

Company success

Success of the company has been rapid under Reilley’s leadership and by 2019 the company became listed on AIM and revenue hit £153M.

Fast forward to 2022 and a new brand Brightside is launched to appeal to roadside diners.

Under Reilley’s leadership the company's intention is to continue to pursue an organic growth strategy, driven by the rollout of new Lounge, Cosy Club and Brightside sites with an ongoing focus on operational improvements to drive further sales and margin improvements across the existing estate.

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