Peach Report

Novus completes Balls Bros acquisition

15 March, 2011

Novus Leisure, the top-end bar operator, has completed the takeover of Balls Brothers, the London wine bar business, which went into administration last November. It will pay an initial £4.6m, with another £3.5m being deferred, for 17 sites.

Balls Brothers, a family-owned company established 150 years ago as a wine merchant, became a City institution favoured favoured by financiers. Novus, headed by ceo Steve Richards, runs a string of bars and latenight venues in the West End and the City, such as Babble, Jewel and Ruby Blue, as well as the national Tiger Tiger brand.

It is expected that Novus will quickly absorb the Lewis & Clarke compemporary bars, which Balls acquired in 2006, and then look to reinvigorate the more traditional Balls Brothers business.

The deal had been delayed because of issues over leases, and the deferred payment is dependent on outstanding lease issues being resolved, it is understood.

Steve Richards, who has steered Novus into becoming London's leading specialist bar owner, said that the deal would give Novus access to a new market and older age group.

• In contrast, Luminar the out-of-London latenight operator today reported its pre-close full year trading update to be "in line" with market expectations, but still with LFL sales down by 18.6% last year and by 12.3% during the last seven weeks.