A SOUTHAMPTON bingo hall is to permanently close as more than 500 jobs are put at risk.

Buzz Bingo has said it will permanently close 26 of its bingo halls - including its venue in Antelope Park on Bursledon Road - which has put 573 jobs at risk.

The company said the move will be part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal to secure its long-term future.

Buzz Bingo said that 91 of its clubs will continue to trade, with plans to start the reopening of sites from August 6. Buzz Bingo in Lordshill is not at risk.

The company, which employs around 3,400 people, said it has earmarked sites for closure due to what it “expects will be an unsustainable operating environment for the foreseeable future”.

Buzz closed its sites across the UK on March 21 due to the lockdown, before reducing costs and furloughing the majority of its staff.

However, the company said it will “take time” for footfall to reach pre-virus levels due to social distancing measures and weaker customer confidence.

Chris Matthews, chief executive of Buzz Bingo, said: “The ongoing pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for the entire leisure and hospitality sector and an immediate and significant impact on our business.

“Following a thorough review of our options, the proposed CVA will restructure our retail portfolio to ensure we are well positioned for a return to growth, while adapting to the ongoing, challenging environment as we start to reopen the majority of our clubs.

“The restructure will, very sadly, impact a number of our colleagues and my priority is to support all those affected and keep them fully informed as we continue with this process.

“I would like to thank every single one of our colleagues for their continued understanding and commitment over this period.”