Nightcap’s executive team is led by prominent hospitality entrepreneur and investor, Sarah Willingham, and boasts a market leading operational and corporate finance track record. Collectively, they have been involved in the operation of over a hundred bars and restaurants and have led a number of successful exits of hospitality companies for investors. The team is exceptionally well positioned to capitalise on the market opportunity.
PLC Board of Directors
Sarah Willingham-Toxvaerd, Founder and CEO
Sarah is an entrepreneur and investor with extensive experience in the hospitality industry starting her career at Planet Hollywood and onto PizzaExpress where she ran the International expansion. She appeared as a Dragon on BBC’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ and also as a judge and investor on ‘The Restaurant’. Sarah was formerly a director of the Clapham House Group plc where she co-owned, developed and sold the Bombay Bicycle Club. She was also responsible for the development of The Real Greek and Tootsies brands and the combined estate of 47 restaurants. Sarah is chair of the PE-backed Tonkotsu Group and a shareholder of the UK’s largest subscription business for alcohol, ‘Craft Gin Club’.
Michael Willingham-Toxvaerd, Founder and Executive Director
Michael is a serial entrepreneur, investor and venture capital and private equity professional. He founded and led the IPO of NeutraHealth plc in 2005 which he grew to a turnover of £34.6m and EBITDA of £2.3m in 2009. He was previously Managing Partner of HBG Holdings UK and CIO of HBG Holdings, the Dubai based private equity group as well as a director of the specialist asset management and investment banking group Rasmala plc. He has over 15 years of mergers and acquisitions experience and extensive experience in capital markets, strategy, finance, listing and advising companies privately and on the London Stock Exchange. Michael leads Nightcap’s acquisition and corporate strategy.
Gareth Edwards, Non-Executive Chairman
Gareth is a qualified solicitor and was previously a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons LLP, where he latterly held both the positions of Global Head of Corporate and International Development Partner. He is currently a strategic consultant and an Executive Director of London Bridge Capital Limited, an FCA authorised corporate finance boutique. He has significant public markets experience and is Chairman of Cornerstone FS plc, and a non-executive director on the Board of Various Eateries PLC, both of which are admitted to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.
Toby Van der Meer, Non-Executive Director
Toby is Group Chief Executive Officer of Hastings Group, one of the UK’s largest and most successful retail financial services businesses. Having joined in 2011 as Managing Director, Toby helped lead Hastings’ growth to a £1bn+ market cap business, and has taken the group through private equity investment, its IPO to a FTSE 250 company, and a subsequent take-private. Toby became Hastings Group CEO in 2018, served on the Plc Board from 2018-2020, and is also an Executive Director of HISL, the group’s FCA regulated retail business. Before joining Hastings, Toby was a Managing Director at Moneysupermarket plc, the FTSE 250 price comparison business. Toby is also an angel investor and private equity advisor.
Thi-Hanh Jelf, Non-Executive Director
Hanh is a senior corporate lawyer and was a partner in London law firm Pinsent Masons LLP. She founded her own boutique corporate law firm in 2013 and now acts for clients in the retail, leisure, technology and fintech sectors. Specialising in corporate and commercial advisory, Hanh has over 20 years’ experience of public company corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions and investment transactions. She has acted for both buyers and sellers in private company transactions and public company takeovers. Whilst at Pinsent Masons, she set up the firm’s corporate office in Shanghai, implemented internal procedures, standardising business development opportunities and raising the firm’s profile.
Lance Moir, Non-Executive Director
Lance has over 35 years’ senior business experience in financial and strategy roles. He has been Chief Financial Officer of WIN plc and Executive Director of IMImobile, Group Finance Director and Director of Planning and Business Development for First Choice Holidays plc, Director of Corporate Finance for Bass plc and Head of Corporate Finance and Planning for Storehouse plc. He has formerly been the senior independent director and chair of the Audit committee of Henderson Global Trust plc and also of Raft International plc. He has a PhD from Cranfield University. He is a fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers and is currently a Non Executive Director of Thatchers Cider Ltd.
Exec Board of Directors
Dawn Donohoe, Managing Director of Nightcap
Dawn is a highly experienced operator with over 20 years’ experience of senior leadership in the hospitality sector. With major roles across London and the UK, Dawn was an original senior team member at Urbium/Novus that launched its expansion across the West End and subsequent UK rollout, moving through to Operations Director of Enhanced Hospitality, a food and entertainment led business. Dawn joined Nightcap, in June 2021, as Managing Director of the the London Cocktail Club and shortly stepped up to Managing Director of the entire Nightcap estate. With an unmatched track record in the late-night sector and a passion for people, Dawn is a leader and friend to us all here.
Adam Dilks, Group People Director
Bringing over a decade of expertise in HR management and leadership, Adam has forged a distinguished career marked by a demonstrated ability to cultivate high-performing teams, instigate inclusive culture change programs, nurture talent, and enhance overall organizational capability. Beginning his journey in retail, Adam honed his passion for people while spending significant years with Tesco. In 2018, he transitioned to hospitality, assuming the role of Head of Employee Relations at Greene King, offering him a profound understanding of the industry’s intricacies and firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by teams. Progressing to HR Director for Greene King’s Premium, Urban, and Venture brands in 2020, Adam orchestrated People Teams across diverse and autonomously operating hospitality businesses. In 2023, Adam ascended to the executive board at Nightcap, where he spearheads the group’s comprehensive people strategy.
Michelle Farrell, Sales and Marketing Director
With over 14 years of expertise in the hospitality sector, Michelle is a seasoned professional specializing in Marketing & Sales, renowned for her success in cultivating digital-first teams. As the Sales & Marketing Controller at Intertain, she played a pivotal role in driving business growth, strategically implementing a digital infrastructure for the pre-booked sales team, a cornerstone for the company’s successful acquisition by Stonegate Group in 2016. Subsequently, at Novus, Michelle led the marketing, brand, and digital teams, contributing to remarkable growth that preceded Novus’s acquisitions by Stonegate Group and Shoreditch Bar Group in 2018 and 2019. In her latest role as Director of Marketing at Stonegate Group, Michelle spearheaded the digital agenda, orchestrating the introduction of a transformative digital infrastructure focused on guest data and acquisition, alongside innovative initiatives like guest-facing apps, website enhancements, and paid media strategies to boost pre-booked sales.