In 1989, when Nigel was the brewery's marketing manager, Rovers cellarman Jack Duckworth had a meeting with him to rat on Bet and Alec Gilroy, who were going through a messy breakup. Hoping that the brewery would oust the Gilroys and offer him and Vera the tenancy, Jack fed Nigel a cock-and-bull story about him keeping the pub going with Alec a shadow of his former self. Nigel learned that this was true - minus Jack's embellishments - when he paid a surprise visit to the Rovers and Alec tried to cover for Bet's absence by saying that she had gone away for a while. The Gilroys reconciled a few days later, before the brewery could act on their separation.
Some time later, when Cecil Newton retired to the Isle of Man, Nigel was promoted to chief executive. Unlike his predecessor, Nigel saw no value in working men's pubs, and decided to chase a wealthier clientele by transforming some of their venues into theme pubs. One of the first pubs to receive a facelift was the Dog and Bottle, which was done over with a Southern states USA theme and renamed The Riverboat.
In May 1990, Nigel informed Bet and Alec Gilroy that the Rovers Return would shortly be done over with a New York theme and rebranded as Yankees. Though Alec was dazzled by the promise of increased takings, Bet was concerned that their regulars would desert the pub, and proved her point to Alec by telling all and sundry about it so that Nigel would hear their complaints on his upcoming visit to the Rovers. Her idea worked, but Nigel took their criticisms on the chin, happily debating the issue with Percy Sugden. Eventually, for Bet's sake Alec told Nigel that they wouldn't go along with the changes. Set on his idea, Nigel carried on with the plans without the Gilroys' knowledge, putting Alec off by assuring him that they wouldn't have a theme pub forced on them - a statement which was technically correct as they were to be offered the tenancy of the Quarryman's Rest, a notorious dive near the cemetery, if they refused to stay.
The work was delayed for a few weeks when the brewery anonymously approached Deirdre Barlow about buying 1 Coronation Street, offering her £5,000 above its market value so that they could knock away the wall and incorporate the space into Yankees. Deirdre only considered the idea when she knew that the offer came from Newton & Ridley and met with Nigel in the Coach and Horses, where he increased the brewery's offer to £35,000. Deirdre provisionally accepted, but when her husband Ken Barlow spitefully told the Gilroys that the brewery was going ahead with the theme pub, the neighbours rallied against the scheme, with Jim McDonald and Mavis Wilton appointed to put their case to the brewery. Receiving their complaints about Yankees being a public nuisance, Nigel dismissed them as alarmist and pointed to market research showing there to be a demand for theme pubs.
In light of the Gilroys' behaviour, Nigel told them that they wouldn't be getting the Quarryman's Rest (though they had refused it anyway) and so, seizing their last chance to make a stand against the brewery, Bet and Alec closed the pub and bodily threw Nigel out when he came to investigate. Inevitably, the brewery repossessed the pub, and the Gilroys confined to the living quarters while Nigel installed Roger Woodhouse as relief manager. Moments after their arrival, Cecil Newton made a surprise appearance at the Rovers, having returned to the fold to put the brakes on the theme pub scheme, which he regarded as "fixing something that isn't broken". Nigel didn't accept Cecil's authority, calling him a fossil, but Cecil put him in his place, warning him that he still had a lot of friends on the board. The transformation of the Rovers, and the purchase of No.1, were immediately cancelled, and the Gilroys remained in charge.
Two months later, Nigel darkened the Rovers' doors once more to present Tina Fowler with a bottle of champagne after becoming Newton & Ridley's Barmaid of the Month. Unbeknown to Nigel, Tina had almost not shown up for the do after Alec made her skivvy for the day to get a day's work out of her before telling her. To buy himself time, Alec had introduced him to almost every regular in the bar. Nigel took a liking to Tina and they began dating in secret, with Nigel dropping Tina off for work in Viaduct Street to avoid being seen. Used to being treated like something Alec had stepped on, Tina started behaving as though she was indispensable; her attitude and timekeeping worsened and she insulted Alec in front of customers. Alec decided to sack her but when Bet saw her kissing Nigel, she rushed to stop him. Eventually, Bet fired Tina herself for barring Percy Sugden. Tina got Nigel to reinstate her, but after a row with Bet, Tina interrupted Nigel in a wine bar when he was on date with a young woman which she at first assumed was a business meeting. When it became clear that Nigel was two-timing her and she meant nothing to him, Tina threw a glass of wine over him and smashed it against the table. Nigel had no further dealings with the Gilroys.