Bar industry veteran takes up Leelex managing director post

FORMER manager of Leeds bar Oporto, Paul Lane is no stranger to the Leelex group, which counts Cielo Blanco, Jake’s Bar, and Pintura amongst its many bar brands.

Now, he’s putting his extensive experience and love of the brands to good use, as their new managing director. 

Ged Feltham, who was managing director of the group, has moved to chief executive and will spend more of his time on its Portobello Road Gin brand, as well as maintaining an active role in the running of Leelex.

Leelex currently employs 145 staff and has a reported turnover of £6.2m and expects sales to reach £8.2m this year.  

Mr Lane said: “My job is to now is to make sure every brand we have is solid, and work upwards from there.”

Mr Feltham added: “I’m confident that Paul will be invaluable in his new role to continue the development of Leelex Ltd’s bar and restaurant portfolio. His experience and passion for the job is second-to-none.”  

Mr Lane himself started out pot washing at 15 years old, and moved to Manchester for several years.

“I’ve worked in both cities and I am still astonished at how Leeds people have the capacity to have a night out, any night of the week. In my opinion, a Monday night should be just as busy as a Saturday night. Mid-week in Manchester used to be terrible!

“The great thing about Leeds is that everyone knows each other, we stick our neck to help each other, and the competition keeps us on our toes and brings out the best in us, and also brings more people to the city.

“We have played second fiddle to Manchester for a while in the eyes of the wider world, but that’s because we need to create more links between the council and business.”

In terms of rolling out bar brands, Mr Lane said: “Jake’s definitely has the legs for a rollout, but Pintura was a statement. We asked ourselves, how good can we get?”.

They got their answer after being ranked in the SBID Design Awards 2015, shortlisted in the ‘Best Restaurant & Bar Design’ category.

As Mr Lane said: “The quirkier the space, the better.” And though there are no plans to expand in Leeds, “never say never!” he said. The firm does have plans to expand elsewhere, with another site in London to be opened shortly.