Contractor Jerram Falkus in talks to take over restoration of historic theatre following failure of Sunley Turriff.
The Hackney Empire has lined up local firm Jerram Falkus to complete the £15m makeover of the theatre after the company carrying out the work went into administration last month.

Jerram Falkus, of Shoreditch, is in talks over the terms on which it will complete the refurbishment of the 102-year-old venue. The theatre has been in limbo since contractor Sunley Turriff went into administration at the start of last month, leaving two months' work to be completed.

Matthew Kingston, business development manager at Jerram Falkus, said: "We have not secured the project yet but we are anticipating the green light at the beginning of next week."

The Empire needs to find an extra £1m to complete the refurbishment.

Project managers were due to meet the Arts Council today to put the case for more public funds. The council has contributed £6m to the scheme so far.

A spokesperson for the council said the awards body was committed to the completion of the main project.

Money for the scheme has also come from a number of other sources. The Heritage Lottery fund handed over £3.9m, the Heart of Hackney single regeneration budget £3.2m and the London Development Agency £750,000. Businessman Alan Sugar contributed £1.3m.

The completion date for the scheme has been moved back from the end of this month to the beginning of November.

Hackney Empire staff say it is vital to finish the project before 4 December, when the pantomime season begins.

Eighty-five per cent of the main grade II-listed theatre, comprising a completely redesigned stage and backstage areas, has been completed. A building with a bar and hospitality areas is three-quarters finished.

Between 30 and 40 subcontractors have been employed on the scheme, some of which have not been paid.

Architect Tim Ronalds said the project needed to get back on its feet rapidly. He said: "We have to move quickly to keep the continuity of the project going. It is very important to get started again, both psychologically and financially."

A spokesperson for the Hackney Empire declined to comment in advance of the meeting on Friday.