Owner of Halifax nightclub ATIK urges for more government support after sector thrown “bread crumbs” for help
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Deltic Group, which runs 52 clubs in the UK and supported more than 300 staff in the region, has called for more government support to the nightclub industry or risk the sector “losing its existence”.
Its chief executive, Peter Marks, has made the call to government for failing to offer more support to the nightclub industry, as he confirmed the operator is still looking for a "buyer".
Nightclubs are among the very few businesses unable to reopen at all since Covid-19 hit the UK and Mr Marks, said the government’s failure to offer more support had “choked” the industry to “death”.
Mr Marks, who will have been in the nightclub industry for 39 years this December, confirmed the nightclub operator which runs Pryzm in Leeds, Atik venues in Hull and Halifax, Kuda in York and Bar and Beyond in Sheffield, has cut 1,000 staff, including half the number of staff across all Yorkshire venues, with the rest largely remaining on furlough.
“We have been choked to death," said Mr Marks. "There has been strands of help but nowhere near enough and bizarrely the larger the company the less help we’ve had.
“What we are looking at here is an industry who’s very existence is under threat.”
At the end of last month the Deltic Group confirmed it is seeking a buyer as it fights to stave off bankruptcy after the seven-month closure of its venues during the pandemic drained the business of cash
“We looked for a buyer and an investor to come in alongside or take out our people but it is a really hard sell without an opening date", Mr Marks said. "They don’t know how big the cheque is. It’s very difficult.”
He added: “If we don’t find a buyer then we will go into liquidation and all the venues will be stripped out and most of them won’t return.”
Reflecting on the situation for the Yorkshire venues, Mr Marks, who started his career as the manager of Casanovas And Rooftop Garden Night Club in Wakefield, said venues were trading at no more than 10 per cent of previous years income - in the couple of weeks they were able to open.
He said: “This is our peak season for student areas - so for Hull and for Leeds and for York especially.
“I’ve had managers in tears because they don’t know if it’s the end of their career and whether they will ever be able to get back because they can see the strains the company is in.”
Mr Marks said the Deltic Group had repurposed parts of its clubs as bars, allowing it to reopen 10 per cent of total floor space.
But he added this was bringing in £80,000 a month, compared with the £1m that the company is burning through, leaving it facing running out of cash by December.
Despite being one of three sectors still closed by government mandate alongside sexual entertainment and live music venues none have received any specific support from the English government.
Mr Marks, a “passionate” Leeds United fan since the 1970 FA Cup Final contested by Chelsea and The Whites, said: “It’s the unfairness of it all.
"We have been dangled by a string, we’ve been waiting our turn - on the 4 July most of hospitality got back and by the second week of August just everyone else except nightclubs, live music venues and sexual entertainment venues.
"Everyone has been able to come back - we’ve not been able to come back at all.
"Even things like furlough costs us money - I have been running a benefits office for the Government."
He has called for sector specific support for the night time industry and estimated the business needs an estimated £1m a month to keep the business alive.
Mr Marks said: “How can it be right that you take my business off me and you pay me no compensation - it’s theft.”
“It’s a professionally run industry worth £3bn to the economy and part of the £66bn hospitality industry.
He added: "So if I was talking to Boris I would say - give me a £1m a month to keep my business a live and then in the future when I can open up I will continue giving you £3m a month, which is what “I’ve been doing for the last eight years. They are the numbers.
“The treasury will need money - it won’t get it off shut businesses.”
The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have been appraoched by The Yorkshire Post for response.
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