Bespoke Hotels Group has defended its decision to resort to beginning insolvency proceedings for four of its hotels.
Staff at The Lyndene and St Chads in Blackpool, The Townhouse in Manchester and The Duke in Plymouth were notified on Wednesday 3 February that they had all been made redundant.
Bespoke Hotels has told Boutique Hotelier that the appointment of an insolvency practitioner was a last resort, after months of looking for alternative financial solutions.
“With an ongoing national lockdown that still has no definite end date along with ongoing overheads we’ve simply been left with nowhere else to turn,” the group said in a statement.
“Despite exploring all avenues across the course of many months, the devastating effects of almost a year of enforced closures, combined with an 80% drop in sales since the pandemic began, has decimated the hotels’ revenues.”
Bespoke Hotels Group has come under fire for its handling of the insolvency of the four hotels by The Fragrance Group of Singapore, which it leases the hotels from.
Owners The Fragrance Group has accused Bespoke of a lack of communication and giving incorrect information to the staff it has made redundant.
A statement from the company said: “Fragrance are now forced, due to a lack of communication from Bespoke Hotels and the incorrect information Bespoke Hotels have given staff, to clarify that Fragrance have offered extensive support and worked tirelessly since the pandemic forced hotel closures to arrange a way for Bespoke Hotels to continue to operate Fragrance’s properties. Fragrance are dismayed that Bespoke Hotels have not offered equivalent support to keep these hotels running (despite continuing to support and operate some 80 other hotels during the pandemic) and have now caused distress to numerous families without notifying Fragrance.”
Furthermore, it has claimed that Bespoke Hotels “put forward no feasible solution to the financial issues faced by the companies running their hotels and have offered no support from the wider Bespoke Hotels Group of companies,” a claim which Bespoke refutes.
“We informed the Fragrance Group on 22 January 2021 that we had no other option but to formally appoint an insolvency practitioner, with insolvency proceedings subsequently beginning. The virtual meeting with hotel staff held on 2 February was, sadly, a necessary part of that process,” Bespoke clarified.
“We’re extremely saddened by the impact these permanent closures will have on the hotels’ staff and indeed their local communities and we have done all that we can to avoid having to do so. The hotels are fantastic businesses with loyal staff and we hope that new operators will be able to reopen them and benefit from a great British summer.
“As an organisation, Bespoke Hotels has been managing and running hotels for more than 20 years and this is the first time we’ve had to resort to insolvency proceedings – something that serves to underline our commitment to responsible business practices. However, the financial burden of the pandemic at these hotels has very sadly proved too much to bear,” Bespoke’s statement concluded.
Speaking separately to Boutique Hotelier, Bespoke’s chairman Haydn Fentum confirmed that The Fragrance Group of Singapore had been kept informed, both verbally and in writing, at every stage of the process over the last few months.
The Fragrance Group, headed up by Hotelier and property magnate Koh Wee Meng, acquired a number of properties between 2017 and 2020 as it embarked on a rapid expansion roll out across the UK.