THE company in charge of one of St Leonards’s flagship restaurants has been wound up over unpaid tax bills.
Lightening Leisure Limited was the firm behind Azur at the Marina Pavilion – the seafront venue which opened amid a fanfare in 2008.
But this week its director, David Thorpe-Tracey, confirmed it had stopped trading due to money owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
However, Azur will continue to operate under the new firm Azur Marina Ltd, and Mr Thorpe-Tracey has promised all existing bookings would be met.
In fact, it is a case of business as usual according to the venue’s manager.
Mr Thorpe-Tracey told the Observer: “While Azur has found trading tough during the recession, a new operating company, management team and plan will ensure that Azur will be more profitable in the future.
“The original company behind Azur has gone into liquidation and a new company has taken on the operation of the business. No customer bookings will be disrupted.”
Two new directors have been added to the board, with local businesswoman Helen Crichton Jenner - owner of nearby Haven on Sea - and property entrepeneur Dean Williamson bringing new investment to the company.
And together with Mr Thorpe-Tracey they now plan on looking at ways to make the business more profitable. One early idea is to make the bar area more relaxed and tap into the light meal market alongside the more high end menu already available.
The Observer was unable to access a full list of people owed money by Lightening Leisure Limited, but did speak to Azur’s landlords Seaspace.
The regeneration body said it was aware of the change and promised to continue supporting the business.
A spokesman said: “We’re aware Azur has found trading hard-going during the recession
“The new company has a revised management team and new investment and is planning to make some positive changes to the way the business operates.
“We’ve now agreed to transfer the lease for the building to the new operating company so the restaurant can keep running without interruption.
“We wish the new company every success.”
And Mr Thorpe-Tracey confirmed that all the creditors are continuing to work with the new company - with Azur keen to build any bridges created by the winding-up process.
The once-thriving Marina Pavilion was built in the 1930s and enjoyed decades of success as a venue for dances and other events.
However, before Seaspace stepped in back in 2008, the building had fallen into serious disrepair and was used for late-night raves.