It's a Jongl out there...

£2m cash injection for club chain

Jongleurs has been given a £2million cash injection to expand it its chain of comedy club nights.

Private equity company Ingenious Media has put up the cash for a minority stake in the company, which has revealed ambitious expansion plans for 2011.

Last year, Jongleurs reverted to the control of its founder Maria Kempinska, after owners Regent Inn collapsed. She and her partner John Davy had previously netted £8.5 million for selling their 51 per cent share to Regent in 2000.

Since Regent’s failure, Jongleurs has started running nights in venues in Covent Garden, Hammersmith, Croydon, Portsmouth and Glasgow.

New franchises in Norwich and Bristol are set to open soon, followed by others in Newcastle, Leeds and Leicester in the New Year.

Kempinska also plans to put on 250 Jongleurs On The Road shows at theatres next year, as well as programming events at music festivals. There are also plans for a Jongleurs comedy DVD to be released next year.

She said: ‘Comedians like Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry and Rory Bremner didn’t just magically appear, they were discovered and learned their craft in Jongleurs. Now as part of this huge expansion in the company, we’re going out to find the next generation of comedy talent. We've done it before with everyone from Michael McIntyre to Lee Evans, now we'll do it again.’

However, Evans is suing the company for £50,000 for using his image to promote their clubs without permission. His lawyers are seeking damages after a poster of him, Michael McIntyre and Jimmy Carr was used to promote the Bournemouth venue.

Paul Bedford, investment director at Ingenious, said: ‘We are positive that the new franchises and live shows will build on the success shown by Jongleurs comedy clubs to date.’

He added that TV exposure and the relatively low cost of staging stand-up made it a good business. ‘[Comedy] is a very low-cost thing,’ he said. ‘There could be good returns to be made. Live at the Apollo put comedy right in the shop front.’

In announcing the news, Jongleurs stated that it has 1,800 comics on its books already.

Published: 19 Oct 2010

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