Magazine article Marketing

Profile: King of Swing - Neil Armstrong-Nash, Managing Director, Liberation and Liberty

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: King of Swing - Neil Armstrong-Nash, Managing Director, Liberation and Liberty

Article excerpt

Neil Armstrong-Nash does not sell sex. Instead, the founder of 'swingers' club and hotel chain Liberation sees his role as playing host to parties of adults who enjoy meeting 'like-minded people', with the option for recreational sex on the side.

Interviewing a stranger about swinging while in a busy restaurant is not an everyday experience - the opportunities for unintentional double-entendres are legion. But 37-year-old Armstrong-Nash, a former RAF pilot who is himself a swinger, is reassuringly down-to-earth about the subject.

For him, Liberation is primarily a sound business proposition.

'We have first-mover advantage in a market worth pounds 700m in membership fees alone,' he says. 'That's before you consider extras, such as branded sex toys or naughty eveningwear.' With the level of demand that he claims to be experiencing - more than 1000 members have joined since the summer - Armstrong-Nash predicts that swinging will be worth pounds 1.8bn by 2007.

Despite the strong financial case for developing swinging as an accepted part of the 'mainstream leisure market', his mission is also about moving swinging away from its seedy 'shag and go' image.

'Swinging is a natural extension of a relationship,' he declares. 'Some people deal with it by having an affair or going to a prostitute. We provide facilities where couples can enjoy themselves.'

Liberation operates in Leicestershire, where it owns a property that doubles as a business hotel called Liberty during the week. At weekends, up to 100 members stay there and, in return for a pounds 30 annual membership fee and a pounds 25 entry fee, enjoy facilities such as leather swings and a 16-seater Jacuzzi.

A 93m2 'play area' makes up the main room of the club, although the bar and restaurant are kept separate and clothed zones are strictly enforced.

Friday night is for newcomers, who are given a guided tour and a talk on the dos and don'ts of swinging etiquette.

Armstrong-Nash points out that Liberation is an upmarket brand designed to appeal to 'top-end' consumers who are not necessarily seeking sex.

'About 40% of our members won't swing on any particular evening, but come for a few drinks in nice surroundings.'

The success of the Leicestershire operation and a recent YouGov poll showing that more than half of the UK's 1m swingers live in London, has prompted Armstrong-Nash to extend operations. …

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