Blackpool bars and clubs group in administration – but show goes on

Funny Girls

A Blackpool entertainments group has been placed into administration – but the show will go on after Blackburn beer company Thwaites stepped in to save up to 100 jobs.

Funny Girls Ltd, the business behind the gay-friendly Funny Girls, Flamingos, Flying Handbag and Whippet Inn businesses, had faced high court action by the Inland Revenue.

HMRC was taking court action over an unpaid tax bill.

But long-time business owner Basil Newby said an agreement had been reached with the taxman, meaning his business would continue trading.

However, in July the town’s council removed the licence for the Flamingo Club after the licencing committee described management there as “chaotic” following complaints by the police about the behaviour of some customers.

An appeal against the suspension of a drinks licence for the Flamingo club was about to take place, but at a hearing on Wednesday Blackpool Council lawyer, Sharon Davies, told magistratres: “Funny Girls, which owns the Flamingo, went into administration yesterday.

“Thwaites have taken over their licence. I have spoken to them and they did not know of this appeal.”

Magistrates agreed to adjourn the hearing so Thwaites can consider its position.

A spokesman for Funny Girls Ltd said the move to place the business in administration was to allow Thwaites to take over the running of its venues and save jobs.

It has also coincided with business owner Basil Newby suffering a recurrence of a long-term illness, which has resulted in him having to step aside for a time.

The spokesman said: “Basil is not very well at the moment and as a result he has asked Thwaites to step in. He will continue to be involved but he is having to step aside.

“He will look at the situation again when he is feeling better.”

He added: “When you take over a new business you want a clean slate, and so the company had to go into administration.

“Thwaites has been incredibly loyal to us over the past 20 years and they are stepping in now to safeguard more than 100 jobs and keep the business going.

“The doors will still be open and the show will go on. All bookings will be honoured.”

A spokesperson for Thwaites said: “Funny Girls has been an iconic part of Blackpool’s night-time economy for a long time and we will make sure it stays that way.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Basil Newby going back over 20 years and Basil has asked us to step in to support and protect the business and the livelihoods of people who work there.

“Our license will allow the Funny Girls outlets to operate without disruption for the next few months and together with Basil we will resolve these issues.

“As far as we are concerned, it’s business as usual for Funny Girls and the customers should see no difference.”

Paul Dumbell and Howard Smith from KPMG’s restructuring practice were appointed joint administrators to Funny Girls Limited on September 4.

Mr Dumbell said: “In recent times, this popular chain had suffered from significant creditor pressure.

“We are, therefore, delighted to have reached the agreement with Daniel Thwaites, which protects jobs, while affording us the opportunity to seek a buyer for the business and its assets.”