Signature Living boss poised to unveil CVA recovery plan ‘within weeks’

Signature Living investors and UKAG board members, from left: Thomas Scullion, Mike Spink, Des Lyons

Hotelier Lawrence Kenwright expects to lodge a recovery plan with his company’s administrators “within weeks”, as preparations for the big reopening of his venues from May 17 continue at pace.

The founder of Signature Living Group has been working closely with his creditors to regain control of the property side of the business which went into administration in April 2020, shortly after the coronavirus pandemic struck. The operational side of the business remains unaffected.

Kenwright has been restructuring Signature Living under a company, UK Accommodation Group Ltd (UKAGL) with a new board that includes representation from his unsecured creditors. The board is chaired by Thomas Scullion, a chartered accountant.

Also on the board is long term Signature Living investor, Mike Spink who has 35 years’ experience of Business and IT strategy and Des Lyons, founder and former owner of Air Action International, an international courier, freight and logistics services supplier.

Following February’s announcement that more than 95% of Signature Living’s largest group of unsecured creditors are backing efforts to bring the company out of administration, a further 98% of the last remaining group of unsecured creditors are supporting the effort.

Lawrence Kenwright said: “Having invited my investors into the business, the UKAGL board and I are working hard on pulling together a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with the backing of the vast majority of our investors and funders and I’m confident that we’ll submit that plan within weeks.

“We are in regular contact with our funders who are very supportive. They know that this process cannot happen overnight. This is a long game which supports all secured and unsecured investors and they are prepared to stay the course.”

He added: “I am grateful and highly appreciative of this huge level of support, not only in me, but also those who have ensured that the business has survived through the most torrid of trading conditions ever encountered in this sector.

“Our hotels have been closed for the vast majority of the last 12 months which meant that it has been extremely difficult to gain new funding – after all, who would fund any hotel when they are closed and causing values within the sector to plummet?”

Thomas Scullion said: “As both the UKAGL board’s chairman and one of Signature Living’s 433 retail investors, I can quite confidently state that the business is positioned to trade well and that reaching a robust resolution that suits everyone is growing. I am in regular contact with other investors and we are all helping to drive this effort forward, collaboratively.

“We are also actively working with the administrators to return the business back into the hands of the owners and into the control of the new board.

“With new venues being completed and others close to the finish line and a new spirit of collaboration between funders and investors, Signature Living will be in a great position to capitalise on people’s desire to embrace restored freedom of movement and socialising, as hospitality opens up again shortly.”

Since COVID restrictions eased from April 12, Signature Living venues have been trading well under current guidelines. All the venues are now gearing up for receiving visitors in the second half of May.

To date Signature Living has opened the garden areas at the Shankly Hotel, Rainhill Hall, Arthouse Hotel and Alma de Cuba and thousands of people have enjoyed their outside hospitality in the spell of recent fine weather.

Lawrence Kenwright said: “Last year we realised quickly that tourism as we knew it was over for the foreseeable future and so we worked hard devising new offers to attract visitors from our own local areas.

“When allowed we delivered three new events every week at our venues to encourage local guests to have fun in our hotels and stay the night and it was an initiative that was welcomed with open arms.

“We have now adopted this model to ensure we stay relevant and give our customers what they want and gain that much needed revenue to stay afloat and, in time, grow again.”

Despite the COVID pandemic, Lawrence Kenwright has opened two new hotels, The Dixie Dean in Liverpool, and Rainhill Hall in St Helens, while the Kingsway House residential development in Liverpool city centre is progressing well.

Further, two floors, the bar and restaurant at the Shankly Hotel in Preston, the city’s former Post Office, which is currently being restored, are expected to open in August.