Skift Take

Exclusivity going public, like SoHo House's initial public offering, is a further signal luxury brands are poised for a major upswing on the other side of the pandemic.

Soho House, a global chain of members-only clubs, quietly moved this week to go public on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company confidentially filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering that would value the company at more than $3 billion and could even get as high as $4 billion, Sky News reports.

Despite the pandemic leading to temporarily suspended operations at many of its 27 clubs and layoffs of 1,000 staffers, Soho House was also somewhat of a resilient entity during the last year. Only about 10 percent of the company’s 110,000 members cancelled their memberships during the public health crisis.

This isn’t Soho House’s first attempt at an IPO: The London-based members club ended plans to go public in 2018, when the company was then valued at $2 billion.

Its confidential path to an IPO this time around is an increasingly popular tool for companies en route to the stock market during the pandemic. Airbnb filed this way, with analysts saying it provides more flexibility in timing and prevents competitors from seeing company information like they would in a public filing.

Why Now

Travel analysts see plenty of upside to the members-only model during the travel recovery, and there may be no better time to list than now, when travel stocks are soaring on optimism travel restrictions will lift in a matter of months and usher in a booming era of luxury travel.

“More and more companies and groups are very eager to explore and expand the membership concept. It’s all been fueled by the pandemic and how that has impacted how we live, work, and play,” Gilda Perez-Alvarado, global CEO of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, told Skift earlier this year. “Maybe you travel to a certain city where there’s an exclusive space you can stay that’s giving you a more residential and very personal approach service. That’s the winning formula going forward.”

Membership clubs like Soho House also stand to see gains in the recovery with more people working remotely and wanting a more exclusive working environment than an office or typical co-working space.

The potential public listing also comes amid growing expectations that luxury travel demand will snap back quickly from the catastrophic decline in performance during the pandemic. Branded luxury hotels in the U.S. performed the best of all market segments in recent weeks, according to Truist Securities weekly analysis.

“The amount of pent-up demand in the system right now, especially from a luxury and high-end perspective, is quite something,” Perez-Alvarado said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story and headline incorrectly spelled the name of Soho House with a capital “H” in Soho.

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Tags: coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, soho house

Photo credit: SoHo House's IPO may end up valuing the members-only club company between $3 billion and $4 billion. 271215 / SoHo House Berlin

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