THE operator of the BIC, the Pavilion and Bournemouth’s council leisure centres will make “substantial losses” this year.

BH Live is expecting the deficit despite receiving a £2.5million grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund and borrowing £5m through a business interruption loan.

The social enterprise – which also runs leisure centres in Hampshire and the Fairfield Halls in Croydon – has taken advantage of the furlough scheme, business rates reductions, VAT deferral and other grants.

Littledown Centre

Littledown Centre

BH Live operates leisure centres including the Littledown Centre

In its annual report and accounts covering the year to March 2020 – the first month of lockdown – BH Live revealed a deficit of £610,245.

Bournemouth's BH Live plans 200 redundancies

The report said: “BH Live has been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of multiple lockdowns which have reduced income by significant levels.

BH Live casual staff left without furlough pay

“Therefore throughout 2020 and into 2021, BH Live has minimised costs and maximised income to ensure the survival of the business until the pandemic is over.”

BH Live announces phased re-opening of its leisure centres

Bournemouths Pavilion

Bournemouth's Pavilion

Bournemouth's Pavilion

After the start of the Covid crisis, the organisation carried out what its annual report calls a “major restructuring and redundancy programme”.

The report says a risk assessment before the Covid crisis had found that the probability of all parts of the businesses being hit by a loss of income at the same time was “minimal”.

The assessment had advised operating with reserves of £1.5m, although reserves stood at £2.43m at the end of the financial year 2019-20.

But the business would make “substantial losses” in 2021-22 which would take reserves “well below £1.5m”.

The business was planning to build reserves up to more than £5m in future.

“This will take many years to deliver and will affect business decisions, ensuring that the rebuilding of reserves is a priority for the business,” it added.

BH Live said the closure of its venues was estimated to have cost £380,000 in lost income in March 2020 alone, with 21 events cancelled or postponed.

The deficit for that year was also attributed to the “challenging” reopening of Fairfield Halls in September 2019 when a refurbishment was not complete and a linked car park was not available.

But BH Live’s trading subsidiary, which subsidises its charitable work, made a profit of £686,067.

The report says the board and managers are “confident that BH Live will return to profitability when normal trading can resume following the lockdowns”.

Gym membership is expected to gradually recover this year “There is a demand and desire for people to return to normal. This is evidenced by very few cancellations of events and requests for ticket refunds,” the report says.

The report also reveals that the BIC hosted 62 conferences and exhibitions in 2019-20, drawing 104,000 delegates and visitors – double the number of the previous year.

It says BH Live’s venues hosted 328 arts and cultural events, drawing 457,371 people to 987 performances.

Turnover was up by 17.3 per cent and charitable activities up by 15 per cent, with trading activities up 30.2 per cent.