Luminar saved from administration by former MD Peter Marks

By Mark Wingett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nightclub

The group led by Peter Marks has bought Luminar's remaining sites out of administration, safeguarding 3,000 jobs
The group led by Peter Marks has bought Luminar's remaining sites out of administration, safeguarding 3,000 jobs
A new group led by industry veteran Peter Marks, who was formerly chief executive at Brook leisure and Sports Café, has completed the acquisition of nightclub operator Luminar out of administration in deal worth around £45m.

Marks, a former Luminar managing director, has linked up with Ice Planet's Alex Geffert, who formerly headed up Whitbread's nightclub division, and entrepreneur and nightclub owner Joe Heanen, to rescue the 64-strong chain, which fell into administration with debts of around £85m in October. The deal is expected to save up to 3,000 jobs.

The group, which is believed to be backed by two high-net worth Irish individuals, said that they were committed to further investment in the nightclub operator and to refreshing and developing its core brands such as Oceana and Lava & Ignite.

It is understood the group will operate the sites over the festive season before assessing the estate, with a number of "bottom-end" units expected to be placed on the market.

Marks said: "There was always a solid core business within Luminar but, in common with many in the sector, the perfect storm of high debt, an under-performing tail and a lack of investment meant that the company could not survive the downturn when it came. The bulk of the estate is performing well, as are other privately owned club and bar businesses.

"Luminar has a lot of good people and I am certain that with hard work, the right financial structure and an investment programme the company can look forward to a great future."

Geffert added: "Now we are on firm financial footing we have plans to refresh many of the clubs over the next two years. We believe the lights are firmly back on for the company, saving thousands of jobs into the bargain."

Heanen, founder and owner of nightclubs including Mbargo, Bunker and Sodabar, said: "Luminar is an integral part of the UK's nightlife industry. We have huge confidence in the business and are committed to developing a successful and profitable company."

The sale price of £45m is believed to be well above the £30m bids that were previously thought to be on the table for the nightclub operator, especially as Luminar is understood to have reported a sales decline of close to 20 per cent in November.

An analyst commented last week: "I'd be amazed if the cash price was much higher than £20m. If the £45m is correct, the rest must be in the form of deferred consideration or some sort of performance-related earn-out."

Last month, administrators Ernst & Young closed 11 loss-making clubs as part of a strategic review of the business and said it had received a large number of enquires in the nightclub operator.

Hugh Osmond's Sun Capital working with Luminar founder Steve Thomas; Sun European Partners; an unnamed American group; and RCapital, which was thought to be backing a bid led by former chief executive Simon Douglas, were all thought to have been in the running or shown an interest in acquiring the bulk of the group's estate over the last two months.

Luminar was at one point worth over £800m and operated more than 300 nightclubs and late-night venues. It was placed into administration with just 75 clubs, debts of £85m and a market capitalisation just north of £700k.

This story was first published by M&C Report. To subscribe to M&C Report please contact Emily Croft on 01293 846578 or email Emily.croft@wrbm.com​.

Related topics: Business, Pubs & Bars, Venues

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