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Media-shy entrepreneur admits to ‘nerves’ over opening of Glasgow’s most opulent club

With his reputation for possessing ruthless business acumen and a chilly public demeanour, nerves are not something that are normally associated with Scottish bar and club magnate Stefan King.

But it appears that the businessman, reportedly worth £32 million and with an empire including 43 bars, clubs and cinemas across Scotland, has started to worry about what people think and whether his latest venture will work in the midst of the recession.

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In an exclusive and rare insight, the famously secretive entrepreneur admitted to first-night nerves over the relaunch of The Corinthian Club in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

Already one of the most opulent venues in the country, King’s G1 Group pumped £5.7m into creating a five-storey pleasure palace of international standing. If the so-called age of austerity has descended, someone forgot to tell King, who closed his flagship venue for eight months while the restoration of the 270-year-old building got under way.

The result? Silver thrones, giant lettering and hologram lights set the tone in one room while mirrors, chandeliers and a catwalk fit out the next. There are 14 such rooms to play in, with dancing, eating, singing and gambling on the agenda.

Last night, the black velvet ropes at the entrance of The Corinthian were due to be unclipped to the general public for the first time, with 2000 people expected. King, a teetotal non-smoker who rarely speaks to the media, was due to welcome them all. He admitted that it is the reaction of the Glasgow people, famous for their love of dressing up, showing off and talking straight, that bothers him the most.

He said: “Despite 20 years of launches, we remain apprehensive prior to any new opening and hope that the city embraces this new and unique leisure concept with the same level of enthusiasm that the team has put into creating it. The Glasgow public is never shy about telling you what they really think.”

The new-look Corinthian Club was mapped out by Graven Images, G1’s partner in design. It was once the home of tobacco lord William Buchanan and later the premises of the Union Bank.

King is not alone in making big statements – and investments – in Glasgow. Between November 2009 and 2011, some 1200 new hotel rooms will have been created, including the £26m 100-room Blythswood Square and the five-star, £120m Jumeirah, which will have 160 rooms.

Gordon Matheson, the new leader of Glasgow City Council, has also urged investors to stay bold and see through the next wave of Glasgow’s renaissance.

In the most recent edition of the Glasgow Economic Review, he said: “We are entering a key period in Glasgow’s economic history, one where it is important to forge ahead during these challenging financial times by building on the city’s many strengths and the opportunities that are coming our way.”

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