Small Business Heroes

Off the record

03 Jun 2014

Who’s on the guestlist of Camden’s latest club?

For a club that has been open 5 months, Camden’s exclusive Record Club has an impressive list of members and though initially reluctant to breach client confidentiality, manager Rafael Marques cannot resist and reels off some star clients.

With actor Sean Bean, comedian Rob Brydon, five-times world snooker champion Steve Davies, and former Queen guitarist Brian May, who is also on the committee, included on the membership books it is clear this is the place to be but what is it about this membership only club that makes it so appealing?

Culture Club

The £200 annual membership fee is “not much,” claims Rafael, “compared with some West End clubs.” But it is enough to deter anyone with just a casual interest in joining.

Like other members-only clubs the purpose is, “to bring together like-minded people” and this case, Rafael explains that is “those working in the music industry.” He tells us, “It is a valuable networking opportunity, rather than just a group of people thrown together in a bar.”

Whether the perks include cheaper drinks than elsewhere, exclusive or free access to sold-out events, or simply the chance to hobnob with your celebrity friends, charging membership can make you stand out.

Generating an air of exclusivity around a common interest is a key differentiating factor for this new business, but that can be expensive. If you’re considering starting a members-only club consider your clients' budget in all aspects of your plan.

Before they were Famous

Here there is a clearly defined vibe tailored to their intended clientele. The diamante skull-encrusted bottles and the raised black velvet skull motif on every square metre of wallpaper make the place look hip and edgy. It’s ineffably cool.

As many club members are record producers and artist managers, they are the source of many acts showcased on the intimate stage; this is also the place for unsigned talent to be snapped up. The undiscovered stars of tomorrow are a major, and cost-free, draw for gig attendees. Many clubs can attract performers by offering themselves as a free venue.

As far as he knows, no applicant has yet been denied membership by the membership team. However, the Record Club has had to turn down a request to hire out the venue, to none other than Prince, when he turned up at their door. One of the members was having a birthday party, explained Rafael, and they had to prioritise their members’ interests.

Partly because they vet their members, the Record Club can proudly state that they have never had any disturbances or security issues. If anyone did cause trouble, their membership would be revoked.

Tip for Managers – let your staff keep ‘em

A similar policy of fair dealing is taken towards management of the bar staff, who as permanent and valued members of the team are allowed to keep all their tips and share them out among themselves. This is a major incentive to improving customer service. 

In fact, he says, “We don’t really do service charge – they usually get their 12.5% in cash tips,” which must motivate them to really cultivate relationships with the clientele. Rafael will not reveal which of their celebrity clients are big tippers.

Rafael claims they do not make abnormal profit margins on drinks – 85-87% gross profit, which is standard in the drinks industry, however, the Record Club does it differently using strategic partnerships with companies like Beluga Vodka, the Rolls Royce of vodkas, to give their clients a premium choice of beverage.

Keir Wright-Whyte


Managing Director

0207 043 4000

About the author

Originally graduating with a degree in geography from Edinburgh University, Keir claims that he was then tricked into becoming an accountant by one of the UK's top 5 accountancy practices.The deception extended to the usual training in audit and associated activities.

Keir subsequently worked in a number of advisory roles with clients including in the energy trading, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

He loves working at Accounts & Legal because of the variety of work and clients, the excellent team ethos and morale, the importance placed on genuinely helping and being useful for clients and because he believes what he does matters to clients and helps the firm.

Keir's primary role is to ensure that new clients with complex businesses or needs are on-boarded in the best way and he is a "trouble shooter" both for clients and where complex issues arise internally. He also helps the accounting teams strive to improve what we do for clients, whether processes or services.

When not debiting or crediting, Keir has a penchant for fixing old buildings, skiing, surfing and cycling.


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