Soho House halts new memberships in key cities amid ‘overcrowding’ concerns

on Dec 12, 2023
  • Soho House announces the suspension of new memberships in New York, Los Angeles, and London starting in 2024.
  • Founder Nick Jones emphasizes the company's commitment to enhancing service quality.
  • Soho House plans to grow its membership base to 210,000 by the end of 2024.

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In a move that underscores the challenges of balancing exclusivity with popularity, Soho House, the renowned chain of private clubs, has announced a significant shift in its membership policy. Beginning in 2024, the company will no longer accept new members at its clubs in New York, Los Angeles, and London, a decision spurred by growing concerns over overcrowding and diminishing service quality.

This revelation was made in an email to members by Soho House founder Nick Jones, who emphasized the company’s commitment to improving service and maintaining a comfortable atmosphere in its clubs. Jones stated that the company is “closing the doors to new members” in these key cities and will focus on accepting new members only in locations where capacity allows.

Soho House, known for its appeal to the creative community, offers memberships that can cost up to $5,000 annually. This exclusivity has made it a hotspot for celebrities and even royalty, with Prince Harry famously taking Meghan Markle to a Soho House club on their first date. However, the popularity of these clubs has led to an influx of members, resulting in complaints about overcrowding and a decline in the quality of customer service.

Growth plans in place

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Despite the suspension of new memberships in these three major cities, Soho House remains ambitious in its growth plans. The company, which went public in 2021, has approximately 185,000 members, with another 98,000 on its waitlist. In a recent earnings call, Soho House revealed its intention to expand its membership base to 210,000 by the end of 2024. This growth is expected to come from new clubs in cities like São Paulo, Mexico City, and Portland, Oregon, where the brand is expanding its presence.

Since its inception in 1995 with the opening of its first club on London’s Greek Street, Soho House has grown to about 40 clubs worldwide.

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The decision to halt new memberships in New York, Los Angeles, and London marks a strategic pivot for Soho House. While it addresses the immediate concerns of overcrowding and service quality, it also raises questions about the long-term impact on the brand’s allure and exclusivity. The challenge for Soho House will be to manage its growth while preserving the unique experience that has made it a favourite among the elite.

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