The company behind the Buzz Bingo chain has announced plans to close bingo halls across the country putting 570 jobs at risk.
Nottingham-based Caledonia Venus Holdings, which owns Buzz Bingo (formerly known as Gala Bingo), said it planned to close 26 of its bingo halls because of the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Buzz has now entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal to secure its long-term future and that of its remaining 2,800 staff.
Under the proposed terms of the CVA, while 91 of its clubs will continue to trade and reopen from August 6, the remaining 26 clubs will close permanently due to what the company expects will be an “unsustainable operating environment for the foreseeable future”.
Clubs identified for potential closure are: Chatham, Salford, Salisbury, Antelope Park, Banbury, Boston, Bournemouth, Bridlington, Carlisle, Chorley, Cramlington, Derby Foresters, Edinburgh Westerhailes, Harpurhey, Hereford, Kilmarnock, Milton Keynes, Oxford Kassam, Stockland Green, Tamworth, Wednesbury, Weymouth, Wigan Robin Park, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Wythenshawe.
Chris Matthews, chief executive of Buzz Bingo, said: “The ongoing pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for the entire leisure and hospitality sector and an immediate and significant impact on our business.
“Following a thorough review of our options, the proposed CVA will restructure our retail portfolio to ensure we are well positioned for a return to growth, while adapting to the ongoing, challenging environment as we start to reopen the majority of our clubs.
“The restructure will, very sadly, impact a number of our colleagues and my priority is to support all those affected and keep them fully informed as we continue with this process.
“I would like to thank every single one of our colleagues for their continued understanding and commitment over this period.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “These situations are never easy, particularly now for the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses on our high streets at the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Property owners, however, need to take into consideration the impact on their investors, including the millions of people whose savings and pensions are invested in commercial property, as they vote on any CVA proposal.
“Buzz Group and AlixPartners engaged with the BPF before launching this CVA proposal. This has provided us an opportunity to improve understanding of property owners’ interests and concerns, but ultimately it will be for individual property owners to decide how they will vote on the CVA.”
Buzz Bingo will now seek creditor approval of the CVA proposal, which is due on August 3. Its online business will continue to trade as normal.