Leisure entrepreneur Bob Senior has told how his businesses have been restructured after the holding company for a raft of high profile venues was placed into administration.
Mr Senior said some shareholders within the Utopian Leisure Group (ULG) no longer wanted to be involved with the bars operated by the firm – namely Sam Jacks in Newcastle, the Loveshack in Durham and the Box nightclub in Belfast.
As a result, administrators at Deloitte were appointed to handle the sale of the assets to two separate firms, both involving Mr Senior.
Ulysses Leisure Ltd has bought Sam Jacks, Loveshack and The Box, while the two restaurant operations, Fat Buddha in Newcastle and Durham now come under the umbrella of Hot Buddha Ltd.
Hot Buddha already owned the Newcastle venture because, Mr Senior explained, it had been set up with the purpose of constructing the city centre night venue and eaterie.
Mr Senior said it is business as usual at all the venues and none of the 200-plus staff at the venues were at risk of redundancy.
He explained: “Hot Buddha Ltd was set up by me and other shareholders two years ago to set up Fat Buddha in Newcastle, at Swan House roundabout.
“We set it up because we fundamentally couldn’t borrow the money at the time so we had to use our own funds and a friendly builder who waited until he could be paid.
“Hot Buddha has four shareholders out of the area and three in the area, including myself as managing director.
“Some shareholders of ULG no longer wanted to be involved in the bars, and are only interested in restaurants, so a new business, Ulysses Leisure Ltd replaces Utopian Leisure Group to solely look after the bars Sam Jacks and Lovebox in Belfast.
“The other shareholders wanted to buy Fat Buddha in Durham but they only want to be involved in restaurants, which is why we appointed Deloitte. They have come into a restaurant business and aren’t interested in anything else. Nothing changes at the units themselves.”
Daniel Butters and Clare Boardman of Deloitte were appointed joint administrators of ULG,
Mr Butters said: “We are pleased to have completed a sale of the trading entities of the ULG. The structure of the transaction allows the trading subsidiaries and the licensed venues to operate as usual and all employees to be retained.
“The trading performance across the venues had been poor due to a number of venue specific issues combined with challenging market conditions.
“These include restrictions on discretionary consumer spend, new entrants into local market with ability to fund capital expenditure investment and capital expenditure requirement for some of the group’s existing units.”