Espionage nightclub goes into administration

Espionage opened in Victoria Street in 1999. Picture: Julie Bull

Espionage opened in Victoria Street in 1999. Picture: Julie Bull

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A RENOWNED four-floor Old Town nightclub has been put up for sale after its parent companies plunged into administration.

Dozens of jobs are at risk while the future of Espionage – based inside India Buildings in Victoria Street – is thrashed out.

Administrators cited “challenging trading conditions” for the move as community leaders warned the windowless nature of the building could make it difficult to sell.

A sister club in Aberdeen will also be sold after three separate parent companies all went into administration earlier this week.

Espionage East Limited and Espionage North Limited, which operated the Edinburgh and Aberdeen clubs respectively, along with Duddingston Leisure Ltd, a Capital-listed company which held the majority of the assets, all face financial meltdown.

Espionage, which opened in 1999, will continue trading as it hosts Fringe shows next month, but there are fears the club could lie empty for years if it eventually closes.

However, Old Town Community Council chairman and Grassmarket shop owner Bill Cowan said he would welcome a more “sensible” occupant in the premises.

Mr Cowan said: “We will be glad if there is one less nightclub because it’s not good for the community and ultimately not very good for Edinburgh.

“We appreciate that it is a business that many people enjoy the use of, but that doesn’t make it right overall.

“We wouldn’t want it to sit empty. There are gap sites in Edinburgh that have sat empty for generations before plans for something useful have been submitted.

“We don’t have a good history of finding a good use for these buildings, and that will be a difficult one to find a use for.”

Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and head of restructuring at KPMG in Scotland, hopes a rescue plan will be found to save the 35 jobs at the nightclub.

He said: “The Espionage brand is well established, with a loyal and diverse customer base. However, the businesses have been affected by challenging trading conditions as a result of the general downturn in the nightclub market.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com