Stag and hen do specialist led by Northumberland man bounces back from the brink

A Rothbury businessman’s firm, which had just a ‘50/50’ chance of survival at the height of the Covid pandemic, has bounced back.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 12:34 pm
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 3:04 pm

Last Night of Freedom, a leading stag and hen party provider, was forced into survival mode as the virus caused chaos across the tourism sector.

However, two years later, the Gateshead-based company is once again flourishing.

“It was a scary period,” admitted managing director Matt Mavir. “However not only did we survive it, the company is now in a very healthy position.

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Matt Mavir, managing director of Last Night of Freedom.

“That’s a credit to the resilience, dedication and hard work of our staff who always go above and beyond.”

And the firm has strong roots in the county.

Not only has Matt lived in Rothbury for the past 17 years, but the company has also been based in both the village and in Morpeth during the 23 years it has been in existence.

After an incredible growth, it eventually found a permanent home in Gateshead 10 years ago.

But in May 2020, Last Night of Freedom was forced to furlough long-serving staff as Government rules left it with facing a £1.1m refund bill.

However, management retained an income stream via the firm’s online shop, which provides tongue-in-cheek novelty items, as well as affordable t-shirt printing.

The firm’s operations staff also played a major role in reassuring customers, postponing their trip or offering credit for their booking.

“The size and the variety of our shop is something which sets us apart from our competitors, so that proved to be a godsend during that period, and our other staff worked tirelessly to ensure customers felt reassured that their trip would eventually go ahead,” added Matt.

“We’ve been around for over 20 years, so our mixture of experience - coupled with years of running a profitable business - helped us weather the storm.

“And I think our reputation, along with our flexibility during the pandemic, has been a big factor in customers using us since restrictions ended.”

And business really is booming since travel restrictions ended. Four new employees have started in the past fortnight alone with the company now employing 30 workers.

It is just the latest chapter in the story of a company which originally launched from Matt’s student house.

“I set up Last Night of Freedom in 1999 whilst on my ‘year in industry’ gap from my business degree in Manchester. I was based in Heaton and was inspired to set the company up due to Newcastle’s vibrant nightlife,” added Matt, who spent much of his childhood in Cumbria.

“I liked the North East so much I moved back as quickly as possible once my degree finished.

“We relocated to Rothbury in 2005 and absolutely love it. I’ve actually lived more of my life in Rothbury than anywhere else.”

And crucially, Last Night of Freedom’s revenue is already approaching healthy pre-pandemic healthy levels.

Matt, 44, said: “Everybody has suffered during the last two years, but what we are seeing now is that what really matters to people is spending time with the friends and making memories.

Customers are desperate to have fun and share experiences with the people they were forced to spend so much time apart from.”

Meanwhile, the company has pledged to donate a share of its profits to help refugee charities in Eastern Europe.