A MARQUEE hire business is struggling to stay open after the coronavirus pandemic has seen all its jobs cancelled.

Nationwide Marquee Hire Ltd based in Nelson is at risk of closing due to losing so much business over the last four months.

Owner, 58-year-old Brian Foster from Nelson, took over the business over 22 years ago and says the lack of government funding and support has hit them very hard.

He said: “Ninety per cent of our income usually comes from the months May to October.

“Before the lockdown, we had £800,000 worth of jobs and could have made more if the pandemic did not happen.

“We still have a few small jobs going but nothing that can take us through to winter.”

Mr Foster was a local authority sports centre manager at Pendle for 19 years before buying the business.

He said: “It was an up and coming thing then and a way I could earn money straight away after leaving the sports manager role.”

Mr Foster’s wife works in the office and he also considered his employees family as some have been with them for over 10 years.

They cover food festivals up and down the country, including travelling to Birmingham and Leeds as well as local weddings and corporate hospitality events and more.

The company were recently hired to put up a marquee for Blackburn’s coronavirus test centre and are due to do one for a Nelson and Colne College event.

He said: “At the moment our staff are furloughed but once they are back, what do we do? We cannot afford to pay everyone.

“Although we have received the £10,000 grant for the small business grant, we are not eligible for the cancellation of business rates for the 2020-21 year as event hire companies are not mentioned in the government’s official guidance.”

The business is fighting for survival just like others in the hospitality industry, who cannot operate without events.

Mr Foster said: “The outdoor event industry, which we are part of, has been severely impacted and is facing an 18-month winter.

“We are at risk of complete collapse without long-term support from the government.”