Preston's Evoque nightclub has reportedly closed permanently, say staff
Preston's Evoque nightclub has reportedly closed its doors for good, according to staff who say they have been made redundant.
The nightspot in Church Street has been closed since the first national lockdown in March but has now shut permanently, according to reports.
The venue had been a thriving part of Preston's nightlife for decades and many will remember its heyday as Tokyo Jo's in the 1990s.
It later became Lava Ignite before rebranding itself as Evoque and had continued to draw crowds as a mainstay of the city's clubbing scene.
It is one of more than 50 venues operated by Britain's biggest nightclub operator, the Deltic Group, which put itself up for sale in October in a bid to save the ailing business.
Last week, Sky News reported that the company faced collapse if a buyer could not be found "imminently".
It reported that Deltic chief executive Peter Marks had sought a rent-free agreement with landlords for the duration of the lockdown, in an effort to save its shuttered nightclubs.
In a letter reportedly seen by Sky News, Mr Marks had explained to landlords that a rent-free agreement was essential to its survival, because a buyer is unlikely to come forward and pay the rent on the closed clubs without clarity from the Government as to when they might reopen.
"Whilst bidders are willing to invest without clarity on an opening date, they require the support of the landlord group through the closure period," said Mr Marks.
Financial news website Thisismoney.co.uk also reported that Mr Marks said he needed a "firm offer" either to buy the company outright or invest alongside existing shareholders by the end of November, or the business would run out of cash by mid-December.
It added that if no deal is reached, Deltic could be put into administration, leading to the permanent closure of Evoque and its other venues across the UK.
The collapse of Deltic would result in more than 1,000 staff being made redundant, including around 17 staff employed at Evoque.
On Thursday, November 19, a Deltic spokesman said: ''The Deltic Group confirms it is in negotiation with a number of its landlords to extend their rent free periods as Deltic enters the final bid stage for the company.
"It has received a number of credible offers and will provide an update in due course.''
Evoque and the Deltic Group told the Post that they will be issuing a statement later today (Wedneday, November 25).
The reported closure comes as nightclubs around the UK face an uncertain future, with the Government remaining tight-lipped on when might reopen.
The city centre venue is one of a portfolio of properties in Preston owned by Simon Rigby's estate and had also been home to PCW, the city's local wrestling promotion.
Promoter Steven Fludder said: "It's a shame because Evoque/Lava is such a famous venue in the British wrestling scene and viewed by many as the place where the Brit wrestling boom started with PCW at the forefront back in 2012.
"Almost all the stars currently on TV have wrestled in Evoque at some point. It looked great on our TV show and just had an aura about it as soon as you put the ring up.
"PCW will live on but we certainly have lost a big part of our identity with Evoque closing.
"I just hope it is reopened one day and not turned into flats."
PCW said it is ready to resume its live shows, either at Riva Showbar or the Guildhall, as well as Blackpool Tower, once restrictions are lifted.
An update on this breaking story can be found here, with an official statement from Evoque confirming its closure.
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