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Issue:- 7 March 2013

Dreams acquired by Sun European in £35m pre-pack administration deal

THE bed superstore chain Dreams collapsed after a long running standoff between former private equity owners Exponent and Royal Bank of Scotland a few days back. On 5 March 2013, Alan Hudson, Craig Lewis and Joe O'Connor of Ernst & Young LLP, were appointed Joint Administrators of Dreams Plc. More than 90 of its stores will now be closed, but the remaining 171 shops, and 1,675 jobs, are being saved, thanks to a £35m pre-administration deal, with the owners of the rival bed and sofa company, Sun Capital Partners (ScS). Sadly, the collapse will still result in the loss of around 400 jobs. Alan Hudson, Joint Administrator, said:- "High street retailers have faced unprecedented conditions over recent years, and the market for higher value discretionary purchases has been particularly tough. Dreams is a well known market leader, but in common with many others has suffered as a result of this depressed retail environment, a rapid expansion of its store portfolio and onerous lease liabilities. Whilst recent performance has improved, it has seen a decline in like for like sales across its store portfolio as well as its operating margins being squeezed. This has resulted in the business being unable to continue to operate outside of Administration. However, we are pleased to announce that a sale has been completed that sees the majority of the Dreams business including 171 of its stores, its head office and its two UK manufacturing facilities being sold to a new company controlled by Sun Capital Partners. The business will continue to trade without interruption, over 1,600 jobs have been transferred and the future of Dreams on the UK high street has been safeguarded. The remaining stores that are not included in the sale will remain open for business whilst the Administrators seek to find buyers for these stores." The new owner of Dreams will honour customer orders where part payment deposits have been made for goods and customer warranties. If you are affected by this, please let us know by emailing us to our newsroom.


THINK! is the UK's Department of Transport's website, dedicated road safety

DRIVERS on Merseyside are being reminded to not put their lives at risk this spring by drink driving. The message coincides with the Government's latest THINK! campaign that highlights the serious consequences and the personal cost of a drink driving conviction. Launched in March 2013, the campaign has calculated that drivers face a personal financial cost of £20,000 to £50,000 if caught drink driving for the 1st time.

Merseyside Police's Roads Policing Department are using the campaign to educate drivers about the risks of drink driving and reminding them of the financial cost.  Chief Inspector John Hogan, head of Roads Policing said:- "We will not only crackdown on irresponsible drivers, but also educating people about the dangers and personal cost of drink driving. We all know that drink driving risks lives but as the THINK campaign highlights there is also a hidden cost amounting to thousands of pounds reflecting fines, rise in insurance premiums and possible job losses faced by those convicted. Do you know that you could be left with a bill of almost £5000 just in legal fees plus a fine of £5000 if charged with drink driving? With lighter nights approaching, and hopefully some warmer weather, we appreciate that people may want to enjoy a drink in the evening but we urge them to not get behind the wheel and drive home. Plan your evenings out properly, use public transport or have a designated non-drinking driver. Alcohol affects everyone differently and can still be in your system many hours after drinking. Even the smallest amount of alcohol will affect your competence behind the wheel, your ability to judge speed and distance and will slow down your reactions. Most people know not to drink and drive but a small minority still do and its those people we are appealing to. You risk not only hurting yourself and others but also hefty costs if convicted, risks that I am sure you will agree are really not worth taking."

As well as targeting drivers suspected of drink driving, officers from the Force's Roads Policing Department are visiting schools and colleges around Merseyside to educate young drivers about the dangers of drink driving and other road safety issues. In particular, officers are keen to educate young men aged 17 to 29 about the dangers of drink driving after they made up over 38% of drivers caught driving under the influence over the Christmas and New Year period.

Merseyside Police remains committed to tackling illegal and dangerous driving throughout the year in an effort to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on the roads of Merseyside.  Although the force holds dedicated drink and drug drive campaigns in the Summer and at Christmas, officers conduct breath tests and impairment tests throughout the year.

Any driver involved in a road traffic collision, or who commits any traffic offences, can expect to be breathalysed and may be required to perform an impairment test. Should they fail these tests the penalties can be severe.

The Atkinson announces a fantasia of family fun!

SOUTHPORT'S brand new multi-purpose arts venue, The Atkinson, is delighted to announce a strong programme of family friendly fun for spring/summer 2013. With terrific treats including fairytales, waving felines and even humongous vegetables the venue is set to keep kids (and big kids) utterly entertained throughout May, June and July 2013.

Kicking off the shenanigans on 18 May 2013, is Hiccup Theatre's brand new version of the classic fairytale Rumplestiltskin. Follow the troubled Miller's daughter as she tries to outwit the greatest trickster of them all! With a generous amount of magic and mayhem in the air, will the brave heroine save the day? Or will rotten Rumple double cross her once and for all? With puppetry, live music and mischievous storytelling this magical show by award winning writer Mick Kenny will have you on the edge of your seat, because after all, he's sneaky, he's cheeky, he's… Rumpelstiltskin!

The Krazy Kat Theatre Company bring their sign language art creation The Waving Cat of Japan to the Atkinson on Friday, 24 May 2013. In this visually exciting production, which also marks Krazy Kat's 30th birthday, the company will bring to life Maneki Neko - 'The Waving Cat' - the Japanese cat shaped figure said to bring luck. The lavishly designed show uses Bunraku puppet- style theatrical fantasy, mixing in traditional Japanese images borrowed from the 'Noh' and 'Kabuki' theatre. Expect a tropical storm, a wicked Sorceress, and a not so smart Prince with three tricky tasks to perform before midnight - yikes! Luckily, Maneki Neko the waving cat is on hand to try to help!

Next on Wednesday, 29 May 2013, Topsy Turvy Theatre arrive at The Atkinson with Ruby Flew Too, the heart warming tale of a little duckling struggling to find her feet. Youngsters can watch the ducklings hatch in front of their eyes are advised to hide their lunches as Rufus, Rory, Rosie and Rebecca waddle to the audience in search of food. They'll laugh as Frog tells the worst jokes you have ever heard, and don't forget to bring an umbrella....  just in case. With live theatre, stunning scenery, beautiful handmade puppets and original music, this high energy visually captivating show is a treat for the whole family.

Following their smash-hit show Andy and Mike's… Big Box of Bananas, dynamic duo Andy Day and Mike James visit The Atkinson for the very first time on 2 June 2013 with yet another brilliant adventure, and this time, they have a time machine! BAFTA nominated BBC presenter Andy Day, star of Andy's Wild Adventures (CBeebies) and comedy partner Mike James bring their trademark infectious energy and irrepressible sense of fun and promise to make the new show; Andy and Mike's Tick Tock Time Machine; a treat for the whole family.

Following smash hit performances of 3 Little Pigs, The Elves and the Shoemaker and The Little Red Hen, Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company are bringing their new show The Enormous Turnip to The Atkinson for 2 shows on 14 June and 15 June. Living on an allotment in a tiny house the size of a shed, Mr and Mrs Chickweed show off their prizewinning vegetables for the last time before they retire. However, they can't resist planting one last seed and as the Enormous Turnip grows, it threatens their house with disaster! Can anyone help them pull up the Enormous Turnip? This re-potted version of the famous children's story is a treat for the whole family.

The Atkinson has a special dance treat on Saturday, 29 June 2013, as Turned on its Head presents Shiny, a new dance theatre for children under 4 and their parents/carers. It's the beginning of a new show by the brilliant Liz Clark and Oksana Tyminska of Turned on its Head and they invite youngsters and their families into a world where they can explore, dance, go on an imaginary journey or just be their unique selves. What's in the bag? What's that peeping out? Can you look inside and find out? It looks very bright and magical and shiny...

As Lyngo Theatre Company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, they are delighted to team up with the Mac Birmingham and The Lowry on their best show yet Knick Knack and Dad Doo – Reasons to be Cheerful and will bring the interactive show to The Atkinson on Saturday, 13 July 2013. Knick Knack Lives on the North Atlantic garbage patch, all alone and forgotten just like the rubbish that he sorts through every day. With the arrival of Doo Dad, Knick Knack has to learn how to make friends again, slowly the garbage dump begins to flower and Doo Dad helps Knick Knack re discover all the reasons to be cheerful. The show is about renewal, regeneration and of course recycling, even asking if the audience have anything to throw away and using it in the show, making the most marvellous thingamajigs.

On Sunday, 8 July 2013, The Atkinson will host the Tall Stories Theatre Company's show My Brother the Robot. Bobbie is a little girl who lives with her inventor dad; they have everything they need until one day Bobbie announces that she wishes she had a little brother. So Bobbie's dad locks himself away in his lab and works day and night to create a special present for Bobbie… a robot little brother. Bobbie loves her new little brother, and tells him all about how the world works. But when Bobbie gets into danger one day, will her robot brother save her?

The Atkinson is committed to catering for families and young people as part of its varied programme, look out for more exciting announcements coming soon!

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