‘Provide a blueprint for the future’, pleads regional hotel owner
The owner of a Warwickshire hotel is calling on the Government to provide businesses with a “blueprint for the future” so they can survive the coming months and then plan for growth.
Rick Cressman runs Nailcote Hall Hotel, Golf and Country Club with his wife, Sue, and the business – like so many – has been hit hard by the Coronavirus crisis.
Weddings have been postponed, leisure club memberships have halved and overnight stays have significantly fallen while flagship events such as the Farm Foods British Par 3 Championship have been cancelled.
This has led to the business, which is in the Meriden area, making redundancies because of the nosedive in income but the couple say they are determined to keep hold of as many staff as possible in order to build back up when the opportunity arises.
But Cressman, who met with Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce vice president Tom Mongan prior to the latest round of lockdown restrictions to discuss the issues facing Nailcote Hall, said central Government needed to give businesses the opportunity to plan.
He said: “At the start of the crisis, I thought the Government’s furlough scheme was excellent and helped us to keep hold of staff. You have to give credit where it is due.
“However, there has been little support for businesses like ours in terms of grants because of our rateable value. Now, I think we are able to access £2,000 a month but when you look at our overheads that doesn’t scratch the surface.
“We’d just started to open up a little more and, in the past two months, we’d hit around 40 per cent of what we’d expect our turnover to be at this time of year. It’s not great, but we didn’t think that was too bad all things considered.
“Then, the new Tier system was introduced, restrictions have increased and we feel like we are going backwards again. I know the Government can’t throw money at everything, but I really do believe they have to look at the contribution business makes to society and make sure we are all able to survive, plan and grow in the future.
“When you look at the jobs we create, the opportunities we give to the young, the charitable donations we give and the taxes we pay, we are fundamental in the recovery of the country.
“So, Government needs to let us know what is happening so we can plan. For example, it could come out now and say that VAT is going to stay at five per cent – that would help us to plan our cashflow for the coming months.
“It could come out now and say that we are not going to be hit with a big Business Rates bill in April. Again, that gives us a bit of room for manoeuvre when it comes to cashflow.
“We understand that it is beholden on Government to try to prevent the spread of the virus and there need to be restrictions but, in my opinion, it now needs to make a plan for this being with us for the next few months and give business the chance to operate.
“At the moment, we are moving from one set of rules to another and it’s incredibly difficult to plan even just a few weeks ahead. If they can give us some kind of blueprint, we can work around it.”
Mongan said: “It was great to be able to meet Rick and Sue who have done an incredible job at Nailcote Hall over many years.
“What is clear is that in ‘normal’ times, this is an extremely viable and successful business that contributes – like so many – to the regional economy and to society.
“The Chamber is working hard on behalf of businesses such as Nailcote Hall to ensure that the message is received by Government that companies need both immediate support and a plan for the future.
“There has to come a point when blanket restrictions have to be lifted to allow businesses of a certain size and sector to be trusted to ensure the rules are followed and Nailcote Hall is a prime example of that.
“While I was there, I heard that they could have dozens of weddings next year and also met a very satisfied customer who had nothing but praise for the hotel, the service they received and the restaurant in particular. It just shows the potential for growth if the Government can come up with a plan to get us out of this impasse.”