IMPRESARIO Basil Newby is set to splash the cash on his clubland empire – despite being hit with a £1m-plus tax bill.
The owner of In The Pink Leisure – which operates the legendary Funny Girls, The Flying Handbag, Flamingos, Buzz and Roxy’s – is set to spend £1m on his properties – just weeks after agreeing to settle a £1.3m debt with the taxman.
Mr Newby is determined his group celebrates next year’s 30th anniversary with a bang – and said his firm had turned a corner.
His accounts are set to show a £700,000 profit for the past 12 months.
He told The Gazette: “We’ve gone through the bad times now. It’s a massive turnaround on two to three years ago which were our most difficult years of trading.
“It’s been the best year we’ve ever had at Funny Girls.
“We’re going to celebrate our 30 years in business in a big way. I think 2012 will be the year of In the Pink.”
Mr Newby’s firm entered into a legally-binding Company Voluntary Agreement with HM Revenue and Customs after being landed with a hefty tax bill during some of the business’ quietest years due to the economic downturn, and a dispute over property.
And he now says the agreement, made in the High Court in Manchester, to repay the taxes over the next five years allows him to reinvest profits from his entertainment empire back into the business.
Mr Newby added: “The revenue were brilliant and talked to us about supporting us and spreading payments out – without that we wouldn’t have been able to invest in the group and they were keen to help us do that.
“People are so quick to judge but it’s no big issue – it’s happening all the time for businesses across the country.”
More than half a million pounds will be poured into The Flamingo and Roxy’s will also be given a refurbishment.
A new fly-on-the-wall TV documentary is also set to be made about the stars of Funny Girls.
Mr Newby said: “We’re looking at a massive refurbishment of the club (The Flamingo) in January and we’ll be looking at a refurb of Roxy’s because it’s looking a bit tired now.”
Mr Newby invested heavily in his businesees in the hope the town would land the ditched supercasnio.
He added: “We spent £5m on the venues and we were told Blackpool was going to be the new Las Vegas, but that never happened and everything changed.
“Blackpool always changes. The Syndicate going has made a big difference and bar culture is very different now to back then.
“But the bad times have gone now for us and we can plan forward.
“Now we’re now looking towards next year and we’re excited. We’re going back to our roots and we’re bringing back some of the first acts who performed here for our 30th anniversary. It’s going to be huge.”
The investment has been welcomed by tourism leaders and fellow clubland operators.
Natalie Wyatt, head of VisitBlackpool, said: “Any money which is being spent is fantastic and is adding to the investment that is being made.
“We absolutely welcome money being put back into Blackpool.”
Venue owner Mike Simmons – best known as comedian Joey Blower – said: “Basil is not only an entrepreneur, he’s also an entertainer and that’s a dying breed these days.
“He’s the Peter Stringfellow of Blackpool and has always brought showbusiness and razzmatazz to the town.
“The investment is great from such an innovative operator.”