THE All Star Factory cinema and bowling complex in Thurso has been sold for around 250,000, it was confirmed yesterday.
The premises, which closed suddenly at the end of September after operators Filmbrook Ltd encountered financial difficulties, were bought at auction.
Paul Bott, the property manager for Wilsons Auctions in Dalry, Ayrshire, which handled the sale, said the complex had been sold but it would be another 28 days before the deal is finalised.
No details of the purchaser or future plans were divulged, although it is understood that the new owner is based in Scotland.
The sale included all moveable fittings in the two-screen 152 and 88-seater cinemas, six-lane bowling alley and associated bar, restaurant, games hall and offices.
The price for the complex was originally listed at 750,000 but dropped to 250,000. The auction took place last Thursday.
Darren Manson, of the Cinema for Thurso campaign group, said it was good news the premises have been sold but he stressed: "It is our hope that the new owners will be willing to continue operating the cinema.
"It is important we view our cinema as not just Thurso's but as the only one in the north Highland region. It can play an important role in the economic regeneration of the county. The cinema itself needs to have a stronger bond with the community while maintaining a firm business footing which it can successfully do.
"Cinema for Thurso will be happy to support the new owners should they be looking to continue running the cinema."
When the All Star Factory closed, it was stated that the economic recession "played a major part" in the decision.
Changes in licensing legislation and increasing costs also contributed to the closure of the business, according to the owners. Gavin Burnett and Christine Tait stressed that these factors all influenced the decision.
The cinema opened in October 2001 in a 1.5 million development which received over 850,000 in public subsidy. The leisure complex hit the rocks 10 months later when operators Thor Leisure went into receivership. The business was taken over shortly afterwards by Filmbrook Ltd.
Local GP Dr Burnett, a director and part owner of Thor Leisure, is also a director of Filmbrook.
The firm's registered office is in High Street, Ullapool. The complex provided work for about 15 staff, mostly on a part-time basis.