AN ESCAPE room attraction set up by former detectives has a new owner, who plans to revive and relaunch the business.

Salisbury Escape Rooms was set up in 2015 with a crime solving theme on Fisherton Street.

The future of the city centre activity venue was unclear after the coronavirus lockdowns hit businesses based on socialising hard.

But now new owner, Gavin Barrett, has revealed his plan for refreshing – and perhaps even expanding – the business in 2021, as soon as Covid rules allow.

Plan for new escape room scenarios

Gavin is working with games master Karl Sanger to come up with new ideas for the escape rooms.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve tended to invest in in fun businesses over the last few years.

“I really like businesses where people are coming to have a good time and have fun.

“It should be an interesting business.”

The original concepts for the rooms, established by the firm’s founders – former police detectives Matthew Johnson, Gordie Howsego and Pete Waugh – will likely remain in place when Salisbury Escape Rooms reopens.

But Gavin then has plans to introduce new ideas and scenarios.

He said: “We are working on the next scenarios and the follow up to ‘Death at the Lab’.

“We’ve got quite a few ideas on that front.

“But it will be staying with the original room for the moment.”

More escape rooms?

Gavin even hinted that if there are too many new ideas for rooms at the Salisbury venue, he could look to expand to other local sites.

He added: “If we are coming up with more scenarios faster than people can play the games currently set up then there is no reason we wouldn’t look at further sites as well.

“There is so much vacant space in high streets and city centres these days.

“If you can turn redundant space, that is not serving any purpose, into something that gives people an opportunity to go and socialise and have some fun in Covid-safe conditions, then it is something we would like to do more of.”

Ex-police founders sign off

The original founders of Salisbury Escape Rooms said they had thoroughly enjoyed their venture into the world of business after a career in the police.

Co-founder Matthew Johnson said it had been liberating to be able to make big decisions for themselves.

He said: “After six years, my colleagues and I are bowing out.

“After 30 years in the cops, we took a punt and went for something completely different and became early adopters of this genre.

“What a breath of fresh air to be totally independent, unregulated, and free to literally live off our wits.

“Creating six brand new scenarios, we learnt amazing new skills, met loads of great people, and had a superb time.

“We have handed over to new owners, and we wish them all the very best.”

Aim to attract visitors to the city

Gavin is hoping under his new leadership, Salisbury Escape Rooms can be revived into a major magnet for visitors, enticing people into the city centre.

He said: “There are a lot of benefits for other city centre businesses.

“A thriving Salisbury Escape Rooms means a lot of extra custom for a lot of other businesses whether they are shops, restaurants, pubs or people who come to Salisbury and make a day of it - going to visit Stonehenge, the cathedral and to have a look at everything else.

“It is a good draw to the city centre.”

The goal is for Salisbury Escape Rooms to be a success story for the city after lockdown, when hopefully the summer and the mass vaccination programme will allow more socialising.

Gavin added: “As the city emerges from this latest lockdown, we look forward to welcoming groups of up to six friends, family and work colleagues back to Salisbury Escape Rooms for some much needed fun!

“It will clearly be a slow and staged return back to life as we know it, but the Escape Room is a great way to socialise in a Covid-safe environment.

“The current whodunnit format is great entertainment for all, and if you haven’t yet been, come on down.”

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