Bingo hall shuts amid financial troubles

Seven Bingo Club Pevensey Road Eastbourne. May 23rd 2011 E21032M
Seven Bingo Club Pevensey Road Eastbourne. May 23rd 2011 E21032M

IT’S A case of unlucky for some as an Eastbourne Bingo Hall closed its doors this month amid a financial crisis.

Seven Bingo in Pevensey Road closed suddenly last week and the company behind it, Leisure Worldwide Deluxe Limited, has gone into administration.

Staff said they were dismissed and the club was closed without warning. Several hundred people passed through the doors each week and there were thousands of members.

Gerard Toplass from the parent company which owned Leisure Worldwide Deluxe Limited, told the Herald, “It was with a sad heart that we had to close.

“We had worked hard to try and save it but there comes a point when you just can’t do it any more.”

Mr Toplass said the company had been trying to negotiate a new rental deal with the landlord but were unable to agree on terms.

In addition, he said, trading conditions had been difficult because of the recession and the bad weather last winter - in particular the snow - which meant the club was closed for a week.

“There has been a general decline in the industry over the last three, four years and we were losing a lot of revenue which put pressure on us,” said Mr Toplass.

“Since we acquired the club we had invested £100,000 but there comes a point when you can’t put any more in. We were told the landlord wouldn’t agree new terms so we had to make the decision to close.”

It is the latest crisis to hit the beleaguered bingo hall in the former ABC Cinema.

It first opened as a bingo club in October 1995 when entrepreneur Peter Hargreaves bought the building.

His company, Stylus Sports, trading as Deluxe Bingo, spent £1.2 million converting the art deco building and became the flagship of the Deluxe Clubs which included venues in Hastings, Folkestone and Southend.

But then disaster struck when Hastings Pier was shut down amid safety fears and people began playing bingo online from the comfort of their own homes.

Stylus Sports Limited had already put itself into a Company Voluntary Arrangement at the end of 2009 and within months went into administration.

Brighton-based RSM Tenon was appointed administrator and Stylus Sports Limited’s assets were sold to Leisure Worldwide Deluxe Limited which took over the running of the Pevensey Road building and the leasehold.

Mr Hargreaves, who still owns the building, was working for Leisure Worldwide Deluxe Limited along with 14 other members of staff.

Finance experts said there were numerous reasons behind the collapse of both companies.

One said, “It’s a pastime that has run its course and people like to play online from the comfort of their own homes. The smoking ban certainly didn’t help either.”

Mr Hargreaves told the Herald he hoped in time a bingo club would re-open and said people should look at Facebook for further details.