Guild Hall reopens as Rigby reveals £6m loss


Lancashire entrepreneur Simon Rigby, who reportedly bought Preston Guild Hall for just £1, has lost £6m on the venture.

He revealed that figure as it was announced that a registered charity he is funding has stepped forward to re-open the venue’s Great Hall and Charter Theatre.

The Guild Foundation, formed to develop arts and leisure in and around Preston, will also look to secure a specialist operator for the city centre venue.

The charity has appointed GF Preston to run the Charter Theatre and Great Hall until that operator can be appointed.

The Guild Foundation is funded by Simon Rigby but he is not permitted to benefit from any surplus generated.

He said: “Even though I lost £6,000,000 on the Guild Hall I am determined not to leave Preston without the booming Guild Hall it deserves.

“I have no interest in operating the Charter Theatre or Great Hall myself but the talented management that have worked so hard for many years deserve an opportunity to shape the future”.

And he added “In due course any registered charity, local good cause or ticket holders who paid cash for shows that are cancelled should be in for good news once we have completed some legal formalities”.

Ticket holders who paid cash for shows that are cancelled should be in for good news once we have completed some legal formalities.

Lisa Matthew, a trustee of The Guild Foundation and Operations Director of GF Preston, said: “We are determined to see the Guild Hall to the next level by putting together a core of staff who understand the importance of the Guild Hall to Preston who will work alongside a world class operator. Thus delivering the best of both worlds for Preston.”

The venue closed at the end of last month and the company running it, Preston Guild Hall Limited (PGHL), applied to the High Court to be placed in administration.

Businesses based in the iconic building were unaffected and they have remained open.

Mr Rigby bought the building from Preston City Council in 2014, reportedly for £1.

Announcing the shutdown he said that negotiations with a specialist live music and venue company to take over the
Guild Hall had been delayed by the tragic death of its owner after a road traffic accident.

He said the delay meant that he was forced to “review the viability” of the business, adding that he wanted to treat creditors fairly.

The venue opened in 1972 and has hosted star turns such as David Bowie and Queen, as well as once being the regular home of the UK Snooker Championships.