Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bar Bosses to Up Sticks; Headquarters Pulling out of 'Party City'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bar Bosses to Up Sticks; Headquarters Pulling out of 'Party City'

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Knox

THE end of an era dawned yesterday as a company inextricably linked to Newcastle's reputation as a party city announced it was moving its headquarters out of the North East.

Premium Bars & Restaurants, which runs more than 50 venues in the UK and 16 in the North East including the Blu Bambu and Sea nightclubs in Newcastle, will move from its offices on Mosley Street, Newcastle, to Manchester later this year in order to build up its Living Room brand.

The firm, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), added 13 Living Room restaurants to its portfolio last year after buying Manchester-based Living Ventures Limited and has decided to move 25 of its 30 head office staff to the city in order to be closer to its North West offices.

Such a decision is typical of the current climate in the pub industry, with firms radically changing their business models in order to escape the effects of the smoking ban and the credit crunch. Although the move will lead to five redundancies, the company, once known as Ultimate Leisure and set up 11 years ago by ex-chief executive Bob Senior, has said that it remains committed to the North East and, as well as retaining an office in the region, has earmarked Sunderland, Durham and Middlesbrough for new Living Room restaurants.

Mark Jones, the firm's executive chairman, said: "Everyone knows that we have changed the make up of the company considerably, through the sale of some of our sites and through our restaurant acquisitions.

"We have thought long and hard about the relocation and decided that it was the right move as we change our focus to becoming a national premium bar and restaurant operator.

"Having said that, we are still committed to the North East and are undergoing a number of developments in the region."

The 11-year old company, which sold three premises in Newcastle last year, saw its revenues jump by 95% to pounds 35.4m in the six months to December 31, 2007 as a result of its recent shakeup.

However, its planned relocation was taken badly by the local business community, which has seen a number of listed companies leave the region in recent years. …

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