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10 December 2011, 08:40
Nightclub operator Luminar has been bought in a #45 million deal expected save 3,000 jobs across the UK.
The company, which ran Liquid, Oceana and Lava & Ignite clubs in the likes of Oldham, Blackburn and Rochdale collapsed into administration in October with debts of £140m, of which more than £80 million was owed to the banks.
Luminar was in the headlines after a 22-year-old student was killed in a crush at its Lava & Ignite club in Northampton in October.
Nabila Nanfuka, of Neasden, north-west London, was fatally injured and two other women taken to hospital in a critical condition.
A trio of leisure industry specialists - Peter Marks, Alex Geffert and Joe Heanen - formally completed Luminar's acquisition yesterday.
In a statement, Mr Marks, a former executive of the company and Northern Leisure 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.
"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, former managing director of the Whitbread leisure and nightclub business, added: "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, said: "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 was the largest UK nightclub owner by number of venues, owning 75 clubs across the UK and employing 3,000 full and part-time staff at the time of its administration.
It suffered amid the financial gloom as its core market of 18 to 24-year-olds was hit by high levels of youth unemployment.
The smoking ban and changes in licensing laws to allow pubs to stay open longer also hurt it.
Administrators at Ernst & Young were appointed in October after lenders refused to extend a recent period of leniency on its debts.
The company's assets are now made up of 66 operating nightclubs, most of which trade under the Oceana, Liquid and Lava & Ignite brands.