Published: 16:42, 27 October 2020
| Updated: 16:47, 27 October 2020
A family who run an indoor soft play centre say their dream has been “destroyed”, after being forced to close for good, because it is impossible to keep going amidst coronavirus restrictions.
Former Apprentice contestant, Felipe Alviar-Baquero who owns Tiny Town, in Larkfield , says they have already reached out to other nearby soft play centres, to offer help.
Mr Alviar-Baquero said: “We need to work together for somebody in the soft play industry to survive. It is the forgotten industry."
Yesterday was the ten-year-old company's last day. This comes after Wear ‘M’ Out in Maidstone and Tonbridge, both indoor play centres, closed in September as they were no longer financially viable.
In April, the former 2014 Apprentice star led six west Kent indoor play centres in asking the Government for urgent assistance. Business loans were taking too long to reach them, and they were forced shut during lockdown, but still had huge overheads to pay.
The Sheldon Way business did receive an Government grant of £25,000 but that nowhere near enough to stay afloat.
Once softplay centres were allowed to reopen in August, guidance issued by the industry body was difficult to stick to. For instance, Tiny Town staff had to clean the entire 10,000sqft building after each booking.
When the rule of six was bought back as coronavirus cases rose, large parties were out of the question, which made it "impossible" to continue.
In a statement on Facebook, the company said: "We have ran all the numbers, multiplied and divided all possible ways and to run our centre with all the restrictions, provide a safe environment and be commercially viable, we have no other alternative but to close."
"Thank you to all the members that chose us as your second home and kept returning every single week, we loved seeing your children grow and the loyalty that you showed to us."
Tiny Town was originally created as a play space for disabled children.
Mr Alviar-Baquero would not give an exact number of employees, as depended on the season, but he said the closure will also have a knock-on effect on the many businesses they worked with.