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Mon 11th Oct 2021 - Update: Stephen Thomas launches new late-night business, cultural nightlife sector loses 86,000 workers
Luminar founder Stephen Thomas launches new late-night business: The founder of Britain’s biggest nightclub group has set up a new business targeting opportunities in the beleaguered late-night sector. Stephen Thomas, who built Luminar into the industry leader in the 1990s, is understood to be seeking to build a fresh bar and nightclub business with an initial target of ten to 15 venues under new brands including Rhythm Room and Liberation. The 68-year-old is being backed by Hugh Osmond, the former PizzaExpress and Punch Taverns tycoon. John Gripton, one of Osmond’s lieutenants at Osmond Capital, his private investment office, is listed as a director of the venture, reports The Times. Thomas has launched the business after pubs, bars and clubs were badly hurt by the pandemic. Thomas kicked off his new venture in February when he registered a business at Companies House called Dance Drink Entertainment (DDE), which has since acquired and revamped two sites in Peterborough as its first venues. The Peterborough sites are well-known to Thomas, as they were once part of Luminar, which became the Deltic Group and then Rekom UK. Thomas launched one in 1998 as part of Luminar’s Chicago Rock Cafe brand. It was rebranded in 2013 as MYU Bar but closed the following year along with two neighbouring Luminar venues, New York, New York and Liquid. The MYU site was due to be relaunched at the weekend as the Rhythm Room – a bar concept with a focus on entertainment. “We have a number of projects on the go now, but Rhythm Room Peterborough is going to be particularly special as it was one of the first venues I opened back in the nineties,” Thomas told Peterborough Today. “We are building something that we want people to enjoy – they can dance, drink and will be entertained, hence the company name.” Meanwhile, New York, New York is being revived by DDE under a second new concept called Liberation, described as “a proper discotheque in the true sense of the word”. The venue opened its doors at the start of the month. Another Liberation looks likely to open in Bromley after DDE applied for a licence on the former Ora nightclub, while a second Rhythm Room is opening in Southend. Thomas started Luminar in 1988 with a £22,000 bank loan and built it into a business that at its peak had more than 300 venues and a market value of more than £800m. In 2011, almost two years after he left, Luminar went bust and was rescued by a consortium of investors led by Peter Marks, who renamed it Deltic Group. Osmond was among the parties in that process.

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £6.6bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £6.6bn being reported by 219 companies. However, a further 208 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.3bn. The next edition will include 427 companies, an increase of 21 companies compared with the September edition. The 427 companies produce total turnover of £30bn. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 15 October at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. To subscribe, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com.

Cultural nightlife sector loses 86,000 workers since start of pandemic: The UK’s cultural nightlife sector has lost about 86,000 jobs since the pandemic hit, according to new data. A new report commissioned by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said the sector was “ravaged” by the pandemic and the restrictions enforced from March 2020. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said the findings come at a pressing time for the sector as it moves towards the busy Christmas period. He added it was pivotal no further restrictions return to the sector – such as vaccine passports – and called for financial support from the government. Kill said: “It’s timely because at this moment, governments in Scotland and Wales are pressing ahead with chaotic vaccine passport plans, and the UK government refuses to rule out their use in England. It is the worst possible time to introduce vaccine passports, which will further damage a sector essential to the economic recovery.” Cultural nightlife covers live music, clubbing and dance music, and events and festivals. The NTIA said the UK’s nightlife industry overall represented about 1.6% of GDP – or £36.4bn – in 2019. The trade body has called on the government to support the sector in this month’s Budget by extending the current lower rate of VAT, which stands at 12.5%, until 2024 and include door sales. The NTIA has also demanded no raise in alcohol duties. In the report, Christian Wakeford, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the night-time economy and Conservative MP, said: “As we look to rebuild from the devastation of the pandemic, we must not leave this vital sector behind.”

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