Q&A with Alex Kalebic, Senior Acquisitions Surveyor at Loungers

Name: Alex Kalebic

Role: Senior Acquisitions Surveyor

Who are Loungers?

We are an award-winning hospitality business founded in 2002, operating two brands across England and Wales currently, Cosy Club and Lounges. We floated on AIM in 2019.

A Lounge is an all-day neighbourhood café/bar offer combining elements of a restaurant, the British pub and coffee shop culture. The sites are characterised by informal, unique interiors with an emphasis on a warm, comfortable atmosphere, often described as a “home from home”. The Lounge estate has a consistent look and feel but each Lounge is individually designed, named and tailored to it’s building and local area.  - meaning no two sites are the same.

Our Cosy Clubs are more a formal, premium, restaurant/bar offer typically located in City centre locations and large regional centres. We cater for the occasion-led demographic and combine an all-day offer with theatrical flair which provides a genuine wow-factor coupled with our love for heritage buildings and prime locations. Each Cosy Club is unique, with elements often inspired by the building itself, its regional context and the local community.

How many locations do Loungers currently have?

We have now have 186 sites now open (January 2022) currently split between 31 Cosy Clubs and 155 Lounges.

Target locations?

For a Lounge we really thrive in good quality suburban High Street locations, market towns and we love waterside locations with good footfall. Basically anywhere there is a healthy demographic and community to enable us to trade right throughout the daytime and evening. Typically we consider towns with an immediate catchment of 20,000 persons, but there will always be exceptions such as those locations boosted by year-round tourism or market towns which offer the main retail provision for a wider catchment.

Our Cosy Clubs work best in busy city centre locations or regional destinations where there is high levels of footfall throughout the day boosted by a vibrant wet-led offer during the evening. Whilst we absolutely love grand period properties, we work equally as well anchoring new developments and shopping centres as we can bring a real point of difference to these schemes.

How many new stores are you targeting?

We are targeting 25+ openings per annum so our numbers quickly change – The more opportunities we have to consider the better!

Size requirements?

Lounge – Circa 3,500 sq ft - we can work with a minimum 2,200 sq ft on ground floor providing there is good quality usable accommodation on first floor level or basement.

Cosy Club – 6,000 sq ft+. Needs to be either a statement historic building or a prime spot in an external scheme. We have a number of good performing sites which operate at first floor level providing we have a well-located ground floor entrance and lobby area.

Additional requirements?

We ideally want some external seating either to the front or rear of the unit, in some locations we even have a roof terrace!  Our amazing look and feel teams, as well as providing some incredible internal fitouts, can work wonders with external spaces that really enhance the visibility and offer of any unit. Otherwise its fairly standard shell spec requirements including utilities and also an extract route as well as a suitable location for our bins.

Whilst we love historic buildings of note we can also make a newly developed shell unit look equally as impressive. We invest significantly in our fit-outs to make every space look amazing and unique.

Planning consent?

Use as a café/bar restaurant under Class E in England and Class A3 in Wales.

Freehold or Leasehold?

Leasehold – Typically a 15 year lease term.

Recent openings or new restaurants in the pipeline?

Our most recent openings were just before Christmas in Lancaster, St Neots, Gainsborough and Colchester. We are opening in Ealing and Maidenhead this month (January 2022) and currently on site fitting out another 4 Lounges as we speak. We are always hungry for new opportunities!

Additional Questions:

Which occupier do you admire and why? Apart from ourselves of course, I think I would have to say that I’ll always have a soft spot for Greggs having worked closely with them in my previous role as an agent. I love the fact that they are constantly evolving their offer and can go to almost any location in the UK and make it a success - I’m sure that even the Royal Household loves a Greggs sausage roll!

What are the main challenges you face when acquiring new property?

For us I think ensuring that we find the sweet spot in any location which caters for our all-day offer – This means shopper footfall during the day as well as being part of the evening offer in a town.

In terms of challenging buildings, we can be more flexible than most with a buildings configuration and have some very quirky Lounges.

What is your favourite building?

We are very lucky to have some phenomenal buildings both modern and historic across the country and I absolutely seeing some amazing architecture during my travels, but as a proud Welsh Croatian (not many of those I assure you!) I would have to say either the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff or Diocletians Palace in Split.

Favourite retail destination?

As a self-confessed foodie I absolutely love Borough Market in London. It is always great to visit and see all of the independent producers and have some incredible food in a bustling and vibrant market environment.

Contact details:

Alex Kalebic: alexkalebic@loungers.co / 07870 869104  

Tom Trenchard: TomT@loungers.co / 07834 005747

Hux Norman: Hux@loungers.co / 07976 706139

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