The Queen is drawn into hotel's administration (it's opposite Windsor Castle) while the Insolvency Service tries to explain away why so few insolvencies were processed in May

Pic: The Insider

The Queen is drawn into hotel's administration (it's opposite Windsor Castle) while the Insolvency Service tries to explain away why so few insolvencies were processed in May

The Queen has been drawn into the collapse of a hotel chain after a member of staff who works opposite her castle in Windsor asked her for help during an insolvency. The Caterer magazine and website have reported on a member of staff at the insolvent Harte and Garter Hotel who has written to her to intervene as she is in effect the landlord.

Suite Hospitality Limited operate the Harte and Garter Hotel in Windsor along with Makeney Hall in Belper, Derbyshire, and Buckerell Lodge in Exeter. The hotel group has gone into receivership having been run by former Plymouth Argyle chairman James Brent and according to Plymouth Live had a “disappointing” year in 2019 and had been in negotiations with major creditors and landlords to find a way for the company to continue, administrators said.

The West Country news website said: “Documents filed at Companies House showed the chain, of which Mr Brent was one of three directors, made losses of £137,557 and £444,613 in 2018 and 2017 respectively and had to take a loan from Mr Brent’s Natatomisam Ltd holding company.”

Letter to the Queen

The trade magazine The Caterer published the poignant letter on its website written by a member of staff of the group’s Harte and Garter Hotel in Windsor to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who lives opposite in Windsor Castle. In the letter the staff member explained how the hotel housed key workers during the lockdown but now the crisis was past its worst the staff were being made redundant and the hotel shut. The point is the Crown Estate is the landlord of the Harte and Garter and according The Caterer it was a problem with negotiating terms with the hotel group’s landlords that led to an impasse and the collapse. It puts the Queen - or rather the Crown Estates - in an unfortunate position.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “This is a story of our times and our thoughts go out to all hospitality workers who put their health and safety on the line to keep key workers safe during the crisis. The hospitality sector has taken a massive hit and we can only hope the Government will help those involved financially to get through what we all hope is a temporary slump. I hope the situation with the hotels can be resolved the staff member who made a fair point can find new employment.”

On 16 June, the directors appointed Julie Palmer and Ian Walker of Begbies Traynor's Exeter office as administrators of the company. The business employs 110 staff, most of whom are furloughed, and the administrators are trying to transfer operations of as many of the company's trading sites as possible to save jobs.

Insolvencies in May

There is a strange anomaly of crashing companies as they lay off thousands of workers and the actual number of UK insolvencies compared to May of last year. In fact there was a 30% drop according to statistics released by the insolvency service although it isn’t due to companies somehow surviving the Covid-19 crisis it is down to something more mundane.

The Insolvency Service explains: “It is likely this was a result of a combination of factors including: HM Courts & Tribunals Service reducing the operational running of the courts and tribunals; HMRC reducing their enforcement activity; The Insolvency Service, insolvency practitioners and Companies House having to adjust to new working arrangements; Delays in documents being provided to Companies House by insolvency practitioners.”

The service said that overall, there was a 30% decrease in total company insolvencies when compared to the same month last year. This was driven they said by a decrease in the number of compulsory liquidations in May 2020, which fell by 88%, when compared to May 2019.

As a compulsory liquidation requires a winding-up order obtained from the court, the lockdown and resulting reduced operational running of the courts was a big factor. Plus the government also announced in late April that it would prohibit the use of statutory demands and certain winding-up petitions from 27 April to 30 June 2020.

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ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel - while at the moment there's a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach - ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website or email Ian at on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

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