Two Brighton clubs bank on student mix for survival

Posted On 31 Aug 2011 at 4:08 am

The owner of two of Brighton’s biggest nightclubs – Oceana and Tru – appears to be banking on the new influx of university students for survival.

Luminar Leisure, which runs more than 70 clubs around the country including the two West Street venues, has persuaded its bankers to keep the music playing during Freshers Week.

The business was in breach of its debt covenants but agreed a three-month waiver from the covenants at the end of May.

The waiver was due to expire on Saturday (27 August) but Luminar agreed another three-month waiver with its banking group which consists of Barclays, Lloyds TSB and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Spacewords Brighton

The company gave its investors a trading update last week, saying that like-for-like revenue fell almost 12 per cent in the 25 weeks to Saturday 20 August compared with a year earlier.

Luminar sold four properties for £3.7 million during the summer after stating in May that its net debt totalled £82 million.

It remains Britain’s biggest nightclub business but lost £1.1 million in its most recent financial year.

Riots

The riots had a material impact on revenues in the relevant venues, the company said.

But rising youth unemployment and the general economic malaise have presented a more sustained challenge.

Hence the importance of Freshers Week which starts in four weeks’ time at Brighton University and Sussex University.

Three events, on Monday 26 September, Wednesday 28 September and Friday 30 September, in particular, promise an introduction to clubbing in Brighton for thousands of new students.

One of the events is being held at Oceana.

Brighton Business – the website for the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and the Business Forum – said: “If the worst happens, there are always those who won’t lament it.

“But the night-time economy in the city is worth nearly £340 million per annum and these two clubs are well run and very popular.”

Tru was previously known variously as Creation, Paradox and the Pink Coconut – and for generations of Brightonians and visitors it was Sherry’s, which was mentioned in Brighton Rock by Graham Greene.

Oceana was formerly the Event and Event II – swallowing up part of the premises of Coasters – and before that it was the Top Rank Suite.

Blow

Brighton Business said: “If Luminar goes into administration and … nightclubs in West Street close, even temporarily, it will leave a big gap at the southern end of West Street and be a blow to Brighton’s reputation as a party town.

“It is also difficult to envisage an alternative use for them and a new operator may be slow in coming forward in the current climate.”

One former member of staff said: “The young people who make up our target market have so many options open to them that it’s tougher for us even at the best of times.

“The relaxation of the licensing laws has encouraged a profusion of places to drink after traditional pub opening hours, creating more competition for us.

“And this has been happening even while more people seem to be tightening their belts, going out less often and, when they do go out, often spending less.

“The growing popularity of computer games has given many young people a great excuse to stay in, especially as they can play each other online.

“The stag and hen market has provided some relief in Brighton at least.

“Now we’ve just got to hope that the new intake of students want to drink and dance enough to keep us liquid.

“It’s actually quite a sobering thought.”

  1. anon Reply

    It may be a blow to a giant corp., which while relatively sad, only means a more individualised face for the Brighton party scene. Without a sense of hubris, I think I speak for many when I say that the likes of Oceana will NOT be missed!

  2. Scott Thomas Reply

    I asked a General Manager and an Area Operations Manager at Luminar last week 10 basic questions that I would expect a £100 million PLC to know about their customers

    1) What was your male female ratio last Saturday
    2) What was the average distance that your customers traveled to get to your venue last Saturday
    3) What was the average age of the men in your club last Saturday
    4) What was the average age of the women in your club last Saturday
    5) How old was your youngest and oldest customers last Saturday
    6) How many of your customers last Saturday were first time visitors
    7) How many of your customers last Saturday have visited more than 5 times in the past six months
    8) What was the ethnic break down of your customer base last Saturday
    9) How many of your customers last Saturday were celebrating a birthday
    10) How many of your customers last Saturday are celebrating a birthday in the next 12 weeks and have you communicated directly to them a offer to celebrate the event with you.

    How do all these above compare to 1 month ago, six months ago, 1 year ago

    Shockingly they did not know the answer to a single one of these questions and said that no one in the PLC company would know the answer to this question. But they said that they did have a Facebook page.

    The Management of this PLC has no business running this business – they don’t have a clue how their customers are. Can you think of another £100 Million business that is so out of touch.

    It is little wonder their monthly like for like sales are falling like Autumn apples, “crashing to the ground and rotting”

    This is a company Steering blind into the Abyss – I made a mistake and bought at 15p thinking that they were a good takeover target, at 4p I am nursing a big loss, but nothing like those how owned stock at 900p.

    The problem with this company is not debt, it’s clearly management and a business culture and method more akin to Kevin Kostners movie The Field of Dreams , where he built a baseball stadium and declared “If you build it they will come” I am afraid Luminar those days are over Its time to do some work and win back your customers – but first of all understand who they are

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