Shaper: Alex Reilley

Show aired on 3rd November 2018

Alex Reilley is co-founder and Chairman of Loungers, the nationwide café, restaurant and bar group. Having spent years in the restaurant and bar trade, Alex and two friends, Jake Bishop and David Reid decided it was time they did their own thing in 2002. Nearly 16 years later, Loungers currently operates 114 all-day cafe/bars collectively known as the Lounges, and 21 quirky and opulent bar/restaurant’s called Cosy Clubs. Loungers is opening around 25 new sites a year and aims to having 200 sites in the UK by the end of 2021.

Alex is also non-exec chairman of Cornish burger and beach barbecue brand Hubbox, and a patron of the Princes Trust.

“We opened somewhere for very selfish reasons, we wanted somewhere to go ourselves.”

“It was successful in that it was like nothing else that people had encountered.”

“One of the reasons why we have continued to grow successfully is that we always want to ensure that what made the business special from day one is still very much alive.”

“We are only as good as our people.”

“The idea that we had in 2002 I think is very much not only alive, but better than it’s ever been, and that’s only down to the quality of people that we have.”

“I think one of the nicest things about our story is the fact that we are an example of friends that have gone into business and made it work.”

“If you’ve got the right kind of personality, personalities that complement each other, you can make it work in business as well as friendship.” 

“I think there’s a lot of misconception about private equity, people are very almost fearful of them and they would see them as being overlords.”

“We have always viewed private equity investment as being a partnership.”

“Fundamentally if we focus on making the business better and improving the business then we’ll all do well out of it and we’ll be successful.”

“Growth is addictive.” 

“We invested everything back into the business and that enabled us to keep fuelling this addiction that we have which was seeing the business grow.”

“I still find that tingle and that excitement to be the same as it was when we opened our first site.” 

“I think we have been very, very disciplined in always putting any decision forward with having our customers and our staff at the forefront of that decision.”

“We work very, very hard, and we don’t take anything for granted.”