Neil Moffitt announces Hakkasan departure; Nick McCabe new CEO

Updated April 17, 2017 - 1:56 pm

Neil Moffitt, the brash nightlife mogul who helped create the predominant nightclub company on the Strip, has stepped down as chief executive officer of Hakkasan Group. The move takes effect immediately, as Hakkasan is set to merge with the international luxury resort company sbe.

“The task I set myself is now complete,” the 50-year-old Moffitt said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last five years as we have transformed our company from the hopeful and ambitious nightlife group we once were to an extraordinary global hospitality corporation.”

The company also announced Monday that Nick McCabe has been promoted to the vacant CEO post. McCabe was previously Hakkasan’s chief operating officer and president. McCabe joined the company in 2013, as it took over Angel Management Group.

“I couldn’t be more proud to take on the challenge of leading the company that I’ve been both a fan of, and then a part of, for the past six years,” McCabe said. “While it’s a bittersweet time due to the departure of my mentor Neil Moffitt, I hope that I can continue the amazing work that was done by him to bring the company to where it is today.”

Moffitt spent five years as a top executive of Hakkasan Group. The company operates more than 60 nightlife, daylife and dining venues on four continents with more than 6,000 employees. The company’s nightclubs on the Strip include Hakkasan at MGM Grand, Omnia at Caesars Palace and Jewel at Aria. It also operates Wet Republic dayclub at MGM Grand and the restaurants Herringbone at Aria, Yellowtail and Fix at Bellagio, Citizens and Red Square at Mandalay Bay, Searsucker at Caesars Palace and Stack at the Mirage.

In December 2014, Hakkasan purchased controlling interest in Light Group for $36 million, at the time making the company the largest entertainment and hospitality corporation operating in Las Vegas that does not provide gaming. It opened the 75,000-square-foot Omnia, in the space previously occupied by Pure nightclub, the following spring. It also sold off Light and Daylight clubs at Mandalay Bay.

Moffitt says he has liquidated his assets prior to the merger deal with sbe closing. His interest has been acquired by Hakkasan.

The merger of Hakkasan and sbe will create one of the largest and fastest-growing nightlife and restaurant groups globally. Hospitality giant sbe manages more than 136 hotel, entertainment and food & beverage outlets while Hakkasan alone generated $500 million in revenue last year.

Los Angeles-based sbe was the original owner of SLS Las Vegas, but surrendered its interest in the hotel when company CEO Sam Nazarian ran afoul of state gaming regulators. SLS is now owned by Stockbridge Real Estate and has entered an operating partnership with The W luxury hotel chain, which has taken over the former Lux Tower.

In Las Vegas, sbe still operates Hyde Lounges at Bellagio and on the top tier of T-Mobile Arena. The impending merger will make the company a force in both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment properties.

“The business is now primed for continued success and ready to move into its next exciting phase of development,” Moffitt said. “My passion for what we have built will never go away, however it feels like the right moment for me to step off the train and refocus on my own future and family.”

In the same statement, Hakkasan Group Chairman Khalifa Bin Butti said: “Neil Moffitt has been the driving force of this company and we are incredibly grateful for his vision, commitment and leadership over the years. We are naturally disappointed to see him leave.”

Nazarian said last month his hospitality company was in advanced talks with Hakkasan Group about a potential merger and that the deal would close within 60 days.

Nazarian implied that sbe would manage the combined assets, raising questions about what Moffitt’s role would be in the larger entity.

“As currently contemplated, sbe would welcome Hakkasan’s global portfolio into sbe’s international platform,” Nazarian said in the statement in March.

Moffitt began his career as operator of Godskitchen in the United Kingdom in 1999. He arrived in Las Vegas a decade ago to open Wet Republic, which led to the development of Hakkasan and Omnia nightclubs.

Moffitt told several hundred attendees at the Nightclub and Bar Show in the Las Vegas Convention Center last month that industry mergers were necessary to keep margins and profits strong.

“When we fight the guy down the street, all we do is chip away at our margin,” Moffitt told the audience.

Staff Writer Todd Prince contributed to this report.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section, and Fridays in Neon. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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