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War of words as cinema closes

THE cinema's closure sparked a war of words over its financial arrangements.

VERY upset: Simon Hulse
VERY upset: Simon Hulse

THE cinema's closure sparked a war of words over its financial arrangements.

Simon Hulse, chairman of operators GSX Leisure, said at an impromptu press conference that the company, which has two partners, had gone into voluntary liquidation as it could not afford to pay the £150,000-a-year rent and all requests to have it reduced had been turned down.

Mr Hulse said that a company called Metroplex had originally entered into the agreement with the building's owners, Globe Enterprises.

GSX had later taken over the rights to the Accrington cinema but at that stage had very little to do with the day-to-day running of the site.

When Mr Hulse became "hands-on'' he soon realised that the rent his company was paying was not viable, particularly as ticket sales were running at only 100,000 a year - 40,000 less than predicted.

He added: "We are very upset by this. We have put a lot of work into the cinema. We cover an area the size of 15 terraced houses but we are paying a rent equivalent to that of 50 terraced houses.''

Mr Hulse said he had consulted an independent valuer who said a fair rent would be no more than £60,000 a year.

He added: "When you are £100,000 down and you are looking at a rent which is £80,000 too rich you have to stop."

Globe Enterprises, which is a partnership of Hyndburn Council, Barnfield Construction and entrepreneur Stuart Nevison, said it had agreed a 25-year lease and could not afford to lower the rent.

Mr Nigel Rix, one of the council's nominated directors of Globe Enterprises, said that GSX owed several months' rent, a claim disputed by Mr Hulse.

Mr Rix explained that Globe Enterprises had secured bank finance to carry out the project and it was important for the bank to see that there was a company which had agreed to rent the site for 25 years.

He added: "Globe Enterprises has obligations to its bankers and shareholders including the council. We cannot subsidise occupiers of valuable property who have freely entered into a commercial agreement.

"I think that GSX, for reasons best known to itself, was not prepared to fulfil its obligations."

But Mr Rix is confident that Globe Enterprises will be able to attract new operators to Accrington and that the silver screen will stay in the town.

He added: "Accrington's four-screen cinema is an attractive and viable business, which will thrive with proactive, local management and marketing.

"Our directors have already commenced constructive discussions with the GSX liquidators with a view to re-opening the cinema as soon as possible."


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