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The man behind Brompton Brands shares the secrets behind the group's success
Nick House started his career as a party promoter, licking envelopes, penning guest lists and being denied loans from the bank. He is now the co-founder of the ever-expanding Brompton Brands. V&E took the BBs tour, and Nick tells us why it’s just all about having fun.
What do you do all day? I don’t run the company – we have an MD for that – so I stick to my strengths. I’m interested in the marketing, the branding, the design and the concept behind each venue. We’ve got a bunch of new developments that are taking up a lot of my time. We’ve just secured two new locations – one on High Street Kensington [The old casino within the Royal Garden Hotel] and one on Piccadilly [the former Pigalle Club]. We’re also increasing the capacity of The Brompton Club and opening a restaurant/lounge above The Rose Club. I’m flying to Ibiza next Wednesday to look at a Mahiki beach location and I’m in New York for three weeks to look at a new location there too. There’s loads of stuff going on.
And when you’re not working? The problem with this job is that you never let go. You’ll be out and you see a waistcoat on a waitress and you think, ‘that looks better than the one I’ve got.’ Then you think, ‘should I put a temporary roof structure on my place?’ There’s no ‘off’ button when you do this. It’s not far off an obsession.
What’s the best thing about the job? The people. My partner [Piers Adam] and I get along really well. I’m on the same page with him. He’s more creative than me and has more mad ideas. You also meet some very, very eccentric people, who work with you, who compete with you, who come to your venues – very interesting people.
If you weren’t doing nightclubs what would you be doing? I don’t know, but I’m nightmarishly competitive, so I’d have forced myself to learn it.
What is your goal with Brompton Brands? To create really fun, aspirational places to go out – great drinks, great food and not too stuck up.
Once you’ve got a place up and running, how do you make sure it stays popular? There are a lot of places to go out, so thinking about what gives you an edge makes it better. A lot of people have good ideas, but it’s about execution. That bit is difficult. You can easily say, ‘yeah it’s a Tiki bar, but do we have to have all these rums? Do we have to have all these mixologists that are all crazy eccentrics?’ If you’re going to make it different, you’re going to have to. I’ve just spent the past two months redesigning our cloakroom [in Mahiki] into a confessions booth. We bought a cockatoo the other day – it had to be trained to say certain things. Things like that are important. The problem is you’re never finshed.
Who else do you think is doing a good job of things in London at the moment?There are loads of people doing good jobs. I think Simon Hammerstein has done brilliantly well with The Box. Good for him.
This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2012.