Kensington Roof Gardens to close amid challenging market

Kensington Roof Gardens, one of London's most iconic venues, is to close after its owner Sir Richard Branson said a challenging market meant the firm struggled to make a profit.

The history of the Gardens, now a Grade II listed site, goes back to the 1930s but Sir Richard's Virgin said on Wednesday that "the time has come for us to close our doors".

"In an ever-changing London market The Roof Gardens has stood the test of time but in the face of unpredictable market conditions and a challenge to remain profitable, we feel that the time has come for us to close our doors," the company said.

Virgin took control of the Roof Gardens in 1981 but will not renew its lease agreement.

The venue was used for events, showbiz parties, award ceremonies, weddings and dinners in its restaurant Babylon.

A total of 85 staff are being axed as a result of the closure, which is being linked to soaring inflation and high business rates.

Virgin said it is working closely with affected staff to find alternate employment opportunities within the group and hospitality industry.

The Gardens boast four flamingos, a running stream and an Iberian segment based on the Alhambra in Granada.

Virgin added: "We are certain The Roof Gardens will continue to be one of London's most spectacular and extraordinary landmarks and look forward to seeing what's next for this beautiful venue."