Case Study: Arbeia, owned by Jade

Thirlwall of Little Mix


Industry and Arbeia is a nightclub and bar owned by Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix and based in South Shields. In February 2020, Jade had a meeting with Joanne Meade a Business Strategist to discuss her business and what would be required to make the businesses a success. Jade really liked the ideas and strategies that Joanne had talked about during their meeting and she was brought on board straight away.

Jade thought Joanne was the best person for the job as she owned her own hospitality business and knew what was required to make it a success. As a South Shields girl herself, Joanne has many years of experience within hospitality and turning around businesses and has established good working relationships with suppliers and identified who can offer the best deals and prices.


Having spent some time reviewing Jade’s business, the main problems identified were a lack of leadership, processes, accounting, promotion, and marketing. Prior to contacting Joanne, Jade had worked with a London Consultancy firm that had tried to implement a one size fits all model into the business which wasn’t going to work in a small town like South Shields.

Unfortunately, no initial research had been done into the area and the prices that would work so they were currently operating using complete guesswork which was completely wrong. They were also using a network of their own suppliers rather than looking at negotiating prices or bringing on local suppliers. Day-to-day running costs hadn’t been identified, so it wasn’t clear what outgoings had to be met before the business could turn a profit.

Lockdown came at the end of March 2020 but undeterred Joanne took this all in her stride.


To help stabilize the business, Joanne reviewed all the supplier costs and established where cost savings could be made. She then put procedures in place for the staff regarding the day-to-day running of the business and general reporting, so everyone knew what was expected of them.

Next, they all worked together on exactly what the business offered and decided upon which events were going to be put into place such as VIP nights and inviting local bands and acts to perform.

During lockdown which was a challenging time for any hospitality business, they worked with local radio stations and put on virtual cocktail masterclasses with Jade very much a part of this which resulted in great engagement for this initiative. A local cocktail delivery service was also offered and the business was starting to gradually turn around. Everyone had a lot of fun and this resulted in being able to keep the business in everyone’s minds.

Not all existing staff was suitable for the new business model so unfortunately, redundancies had to be made. This was incredibly hard, but necessary for the business to grow. A new team was recruited that had the same core business values to take the business from strength to strength.

Joanne continued to work with suppliers to ensure costs were kept down as much as possible as well as identifying what grants and funding were available and that the business would qualify for. This was a tremendous help once lockdown was over and the business was restarted again.

Integrity and honesty are of vital importance when looking after and leading a business for an absent owner. Joanne, Jade knew was a safe pair of hands and was named as a signatory on the bank account and dealt with cash handling. Having access to these areas of the business enabled Joanne to report on the liquidity of the business but also to quickly and easily identify when things may need tweaking and readdressed. She was also able to provide an accurate and honest account of where the business was at any one time.

A social media strategy was put into place to work on re-inventing the business, from the Town originally knowing it as the very expensive Red Door Bar to a local hotspot and very much a part of the local community.


By implementing the strategies discussed with Jade at that first meeting, Joanne was able to stabilize the day to day costs of the business, reverse the thoughts locals had of it being an expensive bar, put enough money in the bank to allow the business to reopen following lockdown and put in place a reliable and committed team that would be capable of taking the business forward.

Hospitality is not only about costs but about staff culture and offers to customers. Taking care of all of these aspects of the business results in not only a great working environment for the staff which in turn creates longevity in their employment, but also creates a great experience for the customers who will recognize the great customer service they receive and come back time and time again.

Jade says: “Joanne came to the project with not only a wealth of experience but a tremendous passion. She clearly loves what she does and got on with things identifying areas of the business that weren’t working or needed improvement. Joanne has had a positive impact on my business and turned it into a go-to place for the local community”.

Joanne believes that hospitality is about making memories and making customers feel relaxed, welcome and happy as well as giving them a great experience. This then helps the business owner to have a profitable business whilst being assured their offering is talked about and remembered for all the right reasons.