- Lead investor and UKAG chairman predicts exciting future
The majority of Signature Living’s largest group of investors is backing hotelier Lawrence Kenwright to bring his company out of administration, following the efforts of UK Accommodation Group (UKAG).
Mr Kenwright, the co-owner and founder of Signature Living Hotels Ltd has, through the work of UKAG, won the support of 95% of unsecured investors in his continuing efforts to save and rejuvenate a business that began to suffer financial troubles towards the end of 2019.
The investors group is being led by Thomas Scullion, an executive-level chartered accountant from Northern Ireland, who first invested in Signature Living in 2018. Concern for his own investments led him to meet with Lawrence Kenwright in January 2020 and verify all raised funds had been used and invested into the bricks and mortar of the business.
Since then they have worked together on restructuring Signature Living under the umbrella company UKAG of which Mr Scullion is chairman, leading a board of five with Lawrence Kenwright as chief executive. UKAG will operate all hotels with the sole purpose of regaining the values that the buildings which formed Signature Living once shared.
During 2020, Mr Scullion and fellow UKAG directors re-established regular communication with all investors to discuss a way forward and secure an agreement.
He said: “In signing this agreement, we, the investors, have demonstrated that we are united and willing to allow the company to continue, in order to be repaid in due course. If we are to continue along the administration route all the unsecured money will be gone and the business will be sold off, broken up and liquidated.
“The agreement is also an important collective statement of confidence. I was one of the biggest sceptics but have changed my mind. I have repeatedly returned to why I initially invested and that’s because I believed in the business model Lawrence Kenwright has created. This was a business both established and trading profitably, one with a unique customer experience at its heart and with strong scalable opportunities.
“I not only came on board to ensure that investors are protected and see a positive return, but also because I believe very strongly in the future of this business, despite recent troubles generated in part by Brexit uncertainty and exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A lot has happened to the business in the last 12 months. There is once again collaboration and transparency following hundreds of calls, emails and one-to-one Zoom calls with the other investors which is engendering patience and most importantly confidence. A breakdown in communications with investors will not happen again, which I believe played a big part in creating this situation.
“Further, by establishing UKAG we have brought stronger governance and control and removed some of the weight from Lawrence’s shoulders to allow him to do what he does best namely, to build his business, create projects and drive value.
“The proof of that is there to see. In the face of the toughest challenge ever faced by the hospitality sector Signature Living’s development work has not ceased and neither has Lawrence’s drive to restore his position, save his business, protect his staff and those who have invested in him.
“There is some way to go, but more projects will complete this year and I believe Signature Living is again on firm foundations and enjoying an upward trajectory. An exciting future beckons.”
At the end of 2020, Signature Living completed and opened Rainhill Hall Hotel near St Helens and the Dixie Dean Hotel in Liverpool opposite the group’s flagship Shankly Hotel, the subject of a hit four-part BBC1 primetime documentary series, The Grand Party Hotel in Autumn 2020.
The transformation of the Bankfield Centre, a former City of Liverpool College campus into a luxury apartment block in West Derby village, Liverpool was announced last month, while the Shankly Hotel in Preston is progressing quickly as is the conversion into 117 apartments of Kingsway House in Liverpool, a vacant office building.
Lawrence Kenwright said: “Signature Living is continuing to navigate its way through the toughest time it has ever faced, and this is most welcome and morale-boosting news.
“I am extremely grateful for the support of Thomas Scullion, the UKAG board and all the investors who have signed the agreement to help them realise the return on their investment. I am hopeful that further positive steps can now be made to bring the company out of administration, and we can keep pushing the boundaries of our unique offering.
“The hiatus in trading caused by the pandemic has though allowed us to complete new venues, funded by secured investors, and new guest propositions designed to increase our appeal in the “staycation” market which is forecast to enjoy high demand when travel and hospitality venue restrictions are eased.”
For more information please contact Jonathan Caswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07515999422