The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table ranks 100 private companies with the fastest growing sales over their latest three years, with an awards event at Richard Branson’s Oxfordshire family home each May and a follow-up regional dinners throughout the year.
Inception Group has been ranked at number 47 in the Fast Track League table. It was founded by Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling and operates seven of London’s most conceptual and successful venues: Barts, Maggie’s, Bunga Bunga, Mr Fogg’s, Disco, Cocobananas and Beaver Lodge. Their annual turnover has increased from £1,495,715 in 2010 to £7,510,033 in 2013 with staff numbers growing from 26 to 108 within the same timeframe. What is even more staggering about their rapid expansion is that the group’s first year was only in 2009 when they recorded a turnover of £493, 858 and had a staff of only 12. Their estimated turnover for 2014 is £10m.
Launched in 2009, Barts is a quirky 'speakeasy' style bar on prestigious Sloane Avenue in the heart of Chelsea. Inspired by the hidden bars of New York and Tokyo, it has an obscure location within a residential apartment block and was the first of the speakeasy style bars to open in London, five years ago. It has recently undergone a ‘grand refurbishment’ and the chintz-covered walls are packed with an eccentric range of old paintings, tin signs, stuffed animal heads and a quirky selection of antique ornaments. The acclaimed cocktail list offers everything from classics to more modern concoctions and they are famous for their range of spirit-based teas served in vintage teapots and teacups.
In 2010 they opened Maggie’s, which is named after 1980s Prime-Minister-turned-icon Maggie Thatcher. Guests can hear her famous speeches playing in the loos, while Thatcher memorabilia vies for space on the walls along with other iconic 80s images and paraphernalia. The music is a mixture of classics from the 1980s, and stars from the era play regular DJ sets. The Maggie’s bar tenders are dressed like Tom Cruise in the 80s cult movie, Cocktail, and serve up a range of drinks from Pina Coladas and Daiquiris to the unforgettable Babycham.
In August 2011 they launched Bunga Bunga, An Englishman’s Italian Bar, Pizzeria and Karaoke. It is The Inception Group’s largest operation to date with over 5,000 square feet and over 40 members of staff. Deriving its name from Italy’s most titillating joke, this tongue-in-cheek venue serves authentic cocktails and cuisine in a vibrant space dedicated to Italy’s finest icons.
Last summer they launched the acclaimed, Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair, a recreation of the actual home of Jules Verne’s most famous adventurer, Phileas Fogg, from Around The World in 80 Days, and Disco, an underground boîte inspired by the disco movement, which started in 1970s Manhattan launched in Soho.
This summer they launched Cocobananas, a Brazilian beach party themed nightclub in Battersea, and this winter they have opened Beaver Lodge in Chelsea, a cabin bar and dance saloon based on the winter cowboy log cabins found in places such as Jackson Hole in America.
Charlie and Duncan also regularly appear on lists such as The Evening Standard’s 1000 Most Influential People, Tatler's '50 most fascinating people in the country' and GQ’s ‘100 most Connected Men’