The official homeland of the private (or gentlemen’s) club is England. The first member’s-only organisations of this type originated more than 300 years ago in London and aimed to provide a comfortable and discreet atmosphere for meetings, conversations and the various social pursuits of their members – politicians, diplomats, bankers, businessmen, writers, actors, artists, scientists. Originally, only men were admitted as members, but with the progress made in social relations women were also granted the right to join the elite clubs. Member access is traditionally limited, with conservative and stringent procedures for the admission of new members, code of conduct rules and ethical codes having evolved through the years. In the majority of cases, club members include entrepreneurs, industrialists, bankers, diplomats, leading representatives from the scientific and artistic circles.
The first private social club founded in Bulgaria was the Union Club. It was formed back in 1884 and established itself through the years as a centre bringing together the political, diplomatic, cultural and business elite. Its goal was to promote the development of a social corporate life and the formation of personal contacts between its members – successful Bulgarian citizens from different sectors of the economy, politics, art and culture, diplomatic mission representatives, as well as other foreign citizens residing in the country at that time.
The requirements for membership in the Club were extremely stringent; even writer Ivan Vazov was initially granted only the status of a guest, managing to become a full member only in 1919. Among the more famous members and guests of the club were Prime Ministers Alexander Malinov and Stefan Stambolov, banker Atanas Burov, representatives of the Bulgarian political elite, the army and the diplomatic corps of almost all countries across the globe, renowned Bulgarian and foreign businessmen.
The Club house, which was located at the corner of Ivan Vazov St. and Georgi Rakovski Blvd., was destroyed during the Sofia air-raids on 10 January 1944, and the Club itself ceased to function after 1950.
Some sixty years later – at the end of 2009 – the winner of the year’s edition of the “Manager of the Year” competition, Mr. Lachezar Tsotsorkov, Executive Director of Asarel-Medet JSC, put forward the idea that a Club should be founded to enable the building up of social contacts between the competition finalists. The proposal was met with approval by the other winners of the competition and supported by Manager Magazine and the consulting company Deloitte Bulgaria. At a special meeting, the parties agreed that the Club should become a permanently functioning organisation which would protect business interests, increase the prestige of the managerial profession and promote the development of the activity and the interests of the Club members. To this end, an initiative group was formed in February 2010, whose task was to set up the structure of the organisation and to formulate the main goals of the future association. Among the participants in this group were Mrs. Teodora Georgieva (Managing Director of OMV Bulgaria), Mr. Lachezar Tsotsorkov (Executive Director of Asarel-Medet JSC), Mr. Anthony Hassiotis (Chief Executive Officer of Postbank), Mr. Vassil Mirchev (publisher of Manager Magazine) and Mr. Ilian Vassilev (Chairman at Deloitte Bulgaria). In March 2010, a visit to some of the oldest and most respectable clubs in England was organised for the purpose of establishing useful connections and exchanging practices and experience.
The Constituent Assembly of the Manager Club – as the association was originally named – was convened on 19 March 2010; the agenda included the adoption of Articles of Association and the election of a Board of Directors. Mr. Lachezar Tsotsorkov was unanimously elected as Chairman of the Club. The Club was officially registered on 2 August 2010. About a year later – seeking to ensure continuity with the traditions of the prestigious English clubs (one of which was the renowned Reform Club established in 1836) and to pay tribute to the legacy of the Bulgarian Union Club, the members subscribed to the idea that the name of the Club should be changed. The combination of the names of the two clubs naturally led to the emergence of the new name of the association – Reform Union Club. At a General Meeting held on 14 June 2011, the Board adopted the necessary changes in the Articles of Association and the name of the Club. The new name was officially registered on 13 July 2011.