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Vimac puts pounds 5m into top rank expansion.

Byline: By Guy Anderson

Pub and club group Vimac Leisure has followed the recent pounds 1m purchase of Hexham's only nightclub with the acquisition of two South Yorkshire venues.

Buying the Cafe de Paris late night bar and Milanos nightclub in Rotherham town centre for an undisclosed sum is part of a drive by the South Tyneside-based group to invest pounds 5m in new businesses this year.

It comes just weeks after Vimac, owned by serial entrepreneur and former Newcastle Falcons rugby club chief executive Paul Mackings, spent pounds 1m on Dontino's in Hexham.

The acquisitions, which bring the portfolio up to four nightclubs, an upmarket hotel-restaurant and two cafe bars, will help keep Vimac on course to go for a listing on the Alternative Investment Market by 2005.

Stephen Shell, finance director of Vimac, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Vimac Leisure as we continue to expand the business.

"We have set ourselves a target which will see pounds 5m invested in new businesses this financial year. Mlanos and Cafe de Paris are a significant part of this investment."

Vimac has been built up over two years, with an annual turnover of pounds 8m and a staff of 200.

The group owns the Cafe Rock and DH1 clubs in Durham, plus Victoria's in Newcastle.

Mr Shell said: "Last year we invested pounds 8m in new business and these have been a great success. We take a great deal of pride in our ventures and seek to provide a contemporary style with the latest equipment specifications.

"To date, we have invested pounds 2m in our rolling refurbishment programme and we see this as an important part of our investment strategy."

The refurbishment programme has seen pounds 600,000 spent on Cafe Rock, plus pounds 500,000 on Dontino's, which has been rebranded Cube since the takeover. Work has also been carried out on the Crab and Lobster restaurant and neighbouring Crab Manor hotel in Asenby near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. There are plans to revamp the new acquisitions in Rotherham.

Boldon-based Vimac Leisure has been supported in these acquisitions by the corporate finance team at Evershed's Newcastle office and Allied Irish Bank.

Mike Spetch, Evershed's corporate partner, said: "The acquisitions of Dontinos in Hexham last month and now Milanos and Cafe de Paris in Rotherham are excellent news for the team at Vimac Leisure.

"They are focused on what they want to achieve and we are delighted to be able to help them make such rapid progress."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 10, 2003
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