Purpose-built events venue and hotel set for recovery

A Herefordshire wedding and events business, which has seen nearly £1m of bookings disrupted by Covid restrictions, is expecting to bounce back once government restrictions on large gatherings are lifted after support from The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC).

Crumplebury, a purpose-built events venue and hotel, has seen its entire spring / summer wedding schedule disrupted due to Covid-19.

The £3m development backed by AMC is set in the grounds of the 1,500-acre Whitbourne Estate near Worcester and had secured more than £1m in wedding and corporate bookings for 2020, with the majority now set to take place in 2021.

The business only launched in November last year.

With income falling to zero in the first year of the new venture, AMC – which supported the construction of the venue which includes 13 luxury suites for visiting guests – has helped Crumplebury’s owners with the introduction of a capital repayment holiday and suspended interest options.

The interventions will free up cash flow so the business can plan for 2021 with confidence while also continuing to run Green Cow Kitchens – a 26-cover on-site restaurant that sources its produce from the estate’s farm and forests.

Crumplebury and Green Cow Kitchens are recent additions to the Whitbourne Estate, which has been privately owned by the Evans family since 1860.

At its core it remains a traditional estate with farming, forestry and property, but in recent years the current generation of the family has diversified its operations into leisure and hospitality.

Green Cow Kitchens was founded in 2012 to cater for pheasant shooting held on the estate and has since grown into an award-winning weekend-only rural restaurant based in a converted piggery.

Joe Evans, managing director and founder of Crumplebury and Green Cow Kitchens, said: “The idea behind Crumplebury has always been to share the beauty of Whitbourne while developing a business that will provide sustainable income to reinvest in the estate. In our first year, we expected to reap significant rewards of the investment, with couples and businesses seeing it as an ideal place to experience nature and modern luxury together.

“In hindsight, we couldn’t have picked a more unfortunate time to launch. However, our family has worked with AMC for many years and the team were on hand immediately to find a positive solution. The fact that we have been able to move so many bookings to next year means we’re in a really good position to bounce back quickly.”

Martin Waite, regional agricultural manager at AMC, added: “Since Joe and his wife Keeley took over the estate in 2012, they’ve successfully invested in new enterprises to ensure that Whitbourne remains relevant to the modern economy. This latest venture is the biggest yet and, in the long-term, will help secure the future of the Estate as well as providing special moments for their clients to cherish. We understand the extraordinary challenges business owners are facing due to the pandemic and will continue to do all we can to support them as they look to plan for the future with flexibility.”

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