BOURNEMOUTH’S popular cafe bar Flirt was days away from closing with the loss of 14 jobs before it was sold in February, it has been revealed.

Administrators eventually sold the business for a total of £27,271 to a new company, Flirt Catering Limited.

One of its directors is Stephen McManus, whose previous business Stephen C Associates collapsed in the wake of a cancelled Olly Murs concert in 2017. The other is Michael Gelardi.

The venue at the Triangle was losing money for months under owner Shaan Hussain, who had bought it from its founders in 2017, the administrators' report says.

Mr Hussain attempted to prop it up with a loan of £98,000 from another of his companies and it owed £159,000 to ThinCats Loan Syndicates.

Staff are thought to have been owed around £16,903 in wage arrears. It is due to be paid by the government’s Redundancy Payments Office, which will have a claim on the assets of the old company.

Flirt’s manager and assistant manager left within six weeks of Mr Hussain buying the business from founders Rob Hazell and Peter Moody, according to the report by administrators James Everit and Andrew Cordon, of CFS Restructuring.

“This was planned. However, just how valuable their experience and expertise were had not been appreciated,” their report says.

It says standards at the cafe bar dropped “which led to a fall in footfall due to poor training and customer service”.

Sales fell "considerably" from September 2017, although Mr Hussain tried to attract more customers with new food, special deals and events.

“Turnover continued to fall or the company, with all trading losses being funded by loans from another company under Mr Hussain’s control," the report says.

Mr Hussain sought to sell the business and there were several interested parties, but no sale was agreed.

By January 22, the company was not able to meet the wages and rent bills, the report said, and a review of its cash flow showed there would not be enough money to continue trading while the business was sold.

The report says "it was clear that any purchaser for the business would need to be found within days as opposed to weeks to avoid it closing".

Administrators were called in and agreed a pre-pack administration of Flirt Cafe Bar’s sales and assets to Flirt Catering Limited, one of the parties that had been interested in buying it.

The company’s debts include £78,000 to HMRC, £98,000 to Jacks for Gents Ltd, of which Mr Hussain was a director until January, £20,000 to Mr Hussain himself, £159,000 to Thincats Loan Syndicates and £2,788 to Hunt’s Foodservice.