POOL and snooker clubs firm Rileys is to close 25 clubs with the loss of 146 jobs after slumping into administration, it emerged today.

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But a so-called pre-pack deal, where a sale of the business is agreed before insolvency proceedings start, will see private investors take on the remaining 625 staff and 78 clubs.

Among the clubs which will continue operating are those in Ipswich, Colchester and Norwich.

Allan Graham, one of the joint administrators from accountancy firm KPMG, said: “The combination of difficult trading conditions and a significant number of loss-making sites meant that the company was unable to continue trading on a solvent basis.

“However, the business has a large and loyal membership base, which made it an attractive acquisition opportunity.

“We are pleased that we have been able to rescue the large majority of the business with today’s sale to a private investor. Unfortunately a buyer could not be found for the remaining sites, which has resulted in a number of redundancies on our appointment.”

It is the second time the Milton Keynes-based business has gone into administration in recent years. In 2009, 198 staff lost their jobs when the company called in administrators after suffering from a downturn in trade and large debts.

Rileys chief executive Maurice Kelly said the company had suffered cash flow and trading difficulties as the double-dip recession put pressure on consumer spending.

He said: “We have not been immune to those problems experienced by retailers.”

Mr Kelly also blamed the failure on the smoking ban and changes to the Gambling Act which disadvantaged commercial snooker clubs.

But he said today’s deal would see Riley’s get “significant” investment from private sources.

Rileys, which operated 165 clubs at its peak, was founded in the 1870s by Irish entrepreneur E J Riley, who lived in Manchester.

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