Fluid Group to expand after management change

Christopher Welch, Oliver Vaulkhard and Chris DixoLeading northern bar operator Fluid Group is preparing for further expansion after the retirement of one of its founder shareholders, David King.

Director Oliver Vaulkhard has taken over ownership of the group after buying out his fellow director who co-founded the company with him in 2001.

The business dates back to 1995 and the launch of Newcastle bar The Quilted Camel. Since then, it has grown to open and operate seven Newcastle bars including The Hood Street Club, Barluga, Perdu, Mushroom and Blackie Boy, another Barluga in Morpeth, and three Central Bean Coffee Houses. It also runs leading hospitality design specialist Fluid Design Solutions.

Vaulkhard is now managing director of the group, which employs around 300 people, with fellow director Sarah Bowens taking on more responsibilities under her remit as operations director.

The deal was overseen by Newcastle law firm Sintons and supported by the Newcastle branch of Allied Irish Bank (GB).

Vaulkhard said: “The future for Fluid looks very exciting, and I, with the support of my fantastic team, look forward to continuing to grow our brand. We have opened many successful venues over the past 18 years, and that is a trend I hope will continue.

“Our Central Bean Coffee Houses were a slight change in direction for us but have been a huge success, and that is an area we will definitely look to expand.

“We have built a business offering venues which we commit to for the long term, where we develop lasting relationships with our clients, staff and suppliers. That is what has set us apart and has ensured we have withstood the economic turmoil, and that ethos will always continue at Fluid.”

Christopher Welch, a partner in Sintons’ company and commercial department, said: “We have worked with Ollie and Fluid Group for many years, and are very pleased to be able to provide all the necessary support and assistance.

“Fluid Group has built up a strong reputation for operating high-quality venues, and with plans to further expand the brand already being drawn up, and with Ollie at the helm, we are very confident in its future. We look forward to supporting his progress for many years to come.”

Chris Dixon, manager of the corporate business division at Allied Irish Bank (GB) in Newcastle, said: “Fluid Group has been a valued client for many years, and we are proud of the relationship we have with such a dynamic north-east business. This was an excellent opportunity for Allied Irish to financially support a fellow growing business, which is also committed to remaining here for the long term.”

Pictured above (left to right): Christopher Welch, Oliver Vaulkhard and Chris Dixon. Pictured below: The Hood Street Club
Hood Street Club

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