Suffolk/Essex: Liquid and Envy nightclubs group Luminar is sold for �45m

NIGHTCLUB operator Luminar, which collapsed into administration in October, has been bought in a �45million deal which is expected to save around 3,000 jobs.

Luminar called in administrators from accountancy firm Ernst & Young after its bankers refused to extend a period of leniency on its borrowings, totalling around �80m.

In November, the administrators announced that 11 loss-making venues, including Brazilia in Bury St Edmunds, were to close, although most of the company’s sites, including the joint Liquid and Envy-branded clubs in Ipswich and Colchester, continued to trade normally.

Luminar, which is thought to have total debts of around �140m, operated around 75 clubs at the time it entered administration.

It has been acquired by a team of three industry specialists, Peter Marks, Alex Geffert and Joe Heanen

Mr Marks, a former executive at the company, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to complete the acquisition of Luminar.

“There was always a solid core business within Luminar but, in common with many in the sector, the perfect storm of high debt, an under-performing tail and a lack of investment meant that the company could not survive the downturn when it came.

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“The bulk of the estate is performing well, as are other privately owned club and bar businesses.

“Luminar has a lot of good people and I am certain that with hard work, the right financial structure and an investment programme the company can look forward to a great future.”

Mr Geffert, a former managing director Whitbread’s leisure and nightclub business, said: “Now we are on firm financial footing we have plans to refresh many of the clubs over the next two years. We believe the lights are firmly back on for the company, saving thousands of jobs into the bargain.”

Mr Heanen, founder and owner of nightclubs including Mbargo, Bunker and Sodabar, added: “As Britain’s largest nightclub operator which once boasted an enterprise value of over one billion pounds, Luminar is an integral part of the UK’s nightlife industry.

“We have huge confidence in the business and are committed to developing a successful and profitable company.”

Luminar has been badly hit in recent years by the ban on smoking and extended opening hours for pubs, with the impact of rising unemployment on its core market of 18- to 24-year-old clubbers having added to its problems.