Firmdale fights back as devastating impact of Covid on finances is revealed


Firmdale Holdings Limited has confirmed it is still seeking further development opportunities in both London and New York despite suffering the most financially disastrous year in its history as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Accounts lodged with Companies House this month underscore the devastating impact that the Covid shutdowns had on the business last year, with revenue plummeting from £169.7m to £32.8m for the 12 months to 31 January 2021.

The slump in business and huge cost associated with managing the pandemic saw it rack up losses of £66m for the year compared with a £3m loss the year before.

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The luxury hotel developer manages a number of prestigious London properties, including Covent Garden Hotel, Charlotte Street Hotel, Soho Hotel, Haymarket Hotel, Ham Yard Hotel, Number 16 Hotel, Dorset Square Hotel and the Knightsbridge Hotel.

With London reduced to a ghost town for much of last year, and travel restrictions hitting overseas visitors, the firm saw the rug pulled from beneath its feet.

Some of its sites were forced to shut for up to five months before they began welcoming guests again in September, while seven hotels that it opened in early December to take advantage of festive demand were suddenly required to close mid-month when the UK government imposed further lockdown restrictions.

As a result, the £19.7m turnover that Firmdale’s eight London hotels generated during the year represented just 18% of the previous year’s figure.

Firmdale operates two hotels in New York, which remained close from April through June last year, with partial reopening and limited service from mid-July.

A third New York hotel is currently under development near the World Trade Center Complex, with the company stating that it is seeking additional sites in London and The Big Apple.

The accounts also reveal some of the measures that directors have gone to in order to safeguard its future, including raising £44m of additional funds from existing and new lenders, and £50m from an interest-free convertible loan note.

Subsequent to the balance sheet date, Firmdale said it had concluded a £13.5m loan from QSix Real Estate Finance and a £50m loan from a high net worth individual. In addition, its main lenders have provided waivers of financial covenant compliance through until late August 2022.

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Andrew Seymour

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