Colchester: NatWest backs expansion of Elysium Group

Ash Afzalnia of the Elysium Group, left, with Andrew Eadie of NatWest

Ash Afzalnia of the Elysium Group, left, with Andrew Eadie of NatWest - Credit: Archant

ESSEX entrepreneur Ash Afzalnia is set to add a sixth venue to his range of boutique restaurants, clubs and bars.

Mr Afzalnia, who studied at the University of Essex in Colchester, formed his Elysium Group in 2000 when he opened a small coffee shop.

Subsequent openings mean that the group’s offer now ranges from elegant dining at Mimosa and Qube Bar and Grill to an urban club environment at Bar19, with its workforce now totalling around 200.

The new venue, due to open in September will be a New York-style sports bar which, Mr Afzalnia says, will be the first of its kind in Colchester. He is also looking to expand beyond Essex for the first time later this year, with a number of sites in London under review.

“I’ve intentionally built a very creative team within Elysium and this has been key to our success,” he says. “We’re not about becoming just another bar or restaurant, but bringing something different to the market.

“We are also obsessive about the fundamentals. You have to get this right to bring your customers a great experience and great value. The new venue will be in keeping with this ethos.”

Six-figure funding for the purchase and renovation of the new premises, in Head Street, has been provided by NatWest.

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Andrew Eadie, relationship director at NatWest’s Ipswich office, said: “The Elysium Group has established itself as a leading player in our local hospitality economy and are constantly one step ahead when it comes to new ideas.

“We’re very much looking forward to the opening of Ash’s new venture and delighted to be part of this exciting next phase in the business’s growth. NatWest is still punching above its weight in terms of lending to UK businesses, making more credit available than any other UK bank.”

Mr Afzalnia added: “The new site really shifts our growth path as we’re now in the position to launch nationally.

“The support from NatWest has been great – Andrew understands the sector but, more importantly, believes in the Elysium proposition.

“I’ve learnt that you need to convince others to buy into your vision – luckily, NatWest were open to this.”