Hundreds of jobs in danger as money problems threaten Wearside nightspots

Establishment, Low Row, Sunderland.
Establishment, Low Row, Sunderland.
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MORE than 300 jobs are under threat after the collapse of a leisure group.

The future of three Wearside venues is uncertain after Washington-based Principle Leisure called in administrators after being hit with a heavy tax bill.

They are now looking for a buyer to take over the company’s venues – including Establishment in Sunderland and the River Bar and Fiume Italian restaurant in Fatfield, Washington – and protect the jobs.

Andrew Haslam and Gerald Krasner, of Begbies Traynor in Newcastle, have been appointed as joint administrators of several companies in the Principle Leisure Group.

The firm operates a variety of venues across the North of England, including several under the Popolo brand in Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham.

The cost of opening and refurbishing several new outlets, coupled with the general downturn in the entertainment sector caused by the recession, led to cash flow problems and a build-up of tax arrears.

The company’s management structure was also weakened by the illness and death of director Joseph Peel.

Mr Haslam said: “Following the receipt of demands from HM Revenue and Customs, the directors attempted to negotiate payment terms, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful.

“In order to ensure that the group was protected and the opportunity provided to place the group on the market, the directors took steps to seek the protection of an administration order.

“The outlets are now being operated under licence whilst a purchaser is sought. The process undertaken will, at least in the short term, protect the contracts of over 300 employees and offer the group the best opportunity to identify a purchaser.”

The joint administrators have instructed Newcastle-based commercial property specialist Christie and Co as their agents to handle the sale of venues owned by Principle Leisure. All enquiries should be made to David Lee of Christie’s on (0191) 222 1740.