The Alchemist sets its sights on further East Midlands venues

Private equity-backed bar and restaurant group The Alchemist will look to open further venues in the East Midlands as part of a long-term plan.

Speaking at’s Business Breakfast at the group’s Nottingham bar and restaurant, managing director Simon Potts and finance chief Victoria Stewart said, although their immediate focus is on rolling out in London, they would look to the likes of Leicester and Derby in 2020/21.

In front of an audience of around 60 business figures from across the East Midlands, Potts and Stewart talked about the changing face of the leisure sector.

“The demand from customers is still very much there,” she said. “People are still wanting to go out and enojoy themselves. The reason some in the sector have struggled is because of rising cost pressures such as business rates. I think what will happen is that those who don’t have a unique offering will inevitably disappear and we will be left with a group of strong operators.”

Potts said: “There needs to be some joined-up thinking so that the High Street thrives again. This is the way shopping centres are going, and businesses in our sector should be promoting a more collective approach with local authorities.”

Stewart added: “If the High Street is to survive then the leisure sector needs to offer something you can’t buy on the internet. I think, to a large, degree, that the future will see shops disappear from the High Street.”

The Alchemist opened at 11 King Street in Nottingham in February, shortly after it secured an additional £16m finance package from existing debt funders, Santander, to support its continued growth plans across the UK.

Potts turned the immediate future for The Alchemist, which is backed by private equity house Palatine. He said: “We’re concentrating on our new London venue at the moment, but by 2020/21 we’ll be looking toward the next stage of our expansion and that includes cities such as Sheffield, Leicester and Bristol – and possibly towards Scotland.

“We’ve been really pleased with the way the launch has gone in Nottingham. We wanted to find an interesting and beautiful building and we couldn’t really have done much better – we think this is the most stunning restaurant we have at The Alchemist. We have a great team here.”