Steve Richards to step down as CEO of Novus

Steve RichardsBar operator Novus Leisure is on the look-out for a new chief executive after announcing today that Steve Richards has decided to step down this summer after eight years.

It follows the sale of the business last year to investment companies Hutton Collins Partners and LGV Capital in a deal worth £100million.

Steve (pictured), aged 45, has led Novus Leisure since it was formed in 2005 from a buy-out of Urbium. It operates bars across central London as well as the nationwide Tiger Tiger chain.

“Having led the business since it was founded some eight years ago and successfully steered the business through the recent £100million buyout, it is the right time for me to seek a new challenge and hand the reins over,” Steve said.

“Leaving a business that is part of your DNA is never easy but it is the right decision for me and for the business and I look forward to hearing of its continuing success.”

Having notified the new owners of his intention to move on, Steve has been making a number of key appointments over recent months to build on the strengths of the existing management team.

These include Tim Cullum who has joined as chief operating officer from TGI Friday’s where he was operations director for six years. Previously he spent a number of years in various senior roles in marketing, operations and property at Mitchells & Butlers.

Gregor Grant was appointed as finance director in April after working for pub and leisure companies such as Morrells of Oxford, Eldridge Pope and Fuddruckers Inc in the US.

Over the past 12 months, Novus has been investing extensively in its estate including the revamp of the Lewis & Clark bars that it acquired in its takeover of Balls Brothers.

In the past few months, it has completed major refurbishments of Jewel in Piccadilly and Bar Soho as well as opened Verve in the former premises of Long Island Iced Tea Shop. It has also disposed of a number of high-value, non-core sites.

Work has also been done on strengthening its systems for pre-booked sales through digital channels such as its website and it is close to completing a £2million investment in refreshing its digital and customer-relationship platform.

“The team at Novus have truly transformed the business over the last few years and have succeeded in dominating the central London premium bar market by constant product innovation and building a market-leading digital platform in,” Steve said.

“This year has been one of building for the future both in terms of developing the customer proposition, strengthening the digital sales channel and recruiting an experienced team with the capabilities to complement and add to Novus’s highly successful management team. I wish both the business and its great people every success over its next stage of growth.”

Novus plans to continue to refresh and evolve its estate in what is still the first stage of its development under the new owners as well as seek acquisitions in central London, which include a new site that has just been agreed in Leicester Square.

Chairman John Kelly said: “On behalf of the board we would like to extend our gratitude to Steve for his immense contribution to building Novus into the market-leading business which it represents today.

“He has overseen its transformation to central London’s premier bar and restaurant business and pioneered the pre-booked sales model which is the group’s USP.

“We will undoubtedly miss Steve’s energy and drive. However, a succession plan has been in place for some time and we have been busy building the new team for the future with appointments such as Tim Cullum who brings with him a wealth of experience gained within highly relevant businesses within the leisure sector. Together with Gregor, these appointments strengthen Novus’ management team for the next phase for its development.”

Steve has been chairman of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers since 2011 and a member of its council since 2008. Before forming Novus, he was on the board of pub company Spirit Group where he was managing director of its 750-strong bar and casual dining division.

He was previously managing director of Scottish & Newcastle’s 900 managed pubs which were part of the acquisition that formed Spirit. He joined S&N from Greenalls Group where he was a regional managing director and started his career at Allied Domecq where he held a number of senior marketing, acquisition and operational roles.

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