Administrators denounce claims allegedly made by disgruntled hotel staff as ‘without substance’ and insist non payment of wages claim is ‘categorically false’

Poets House

Poets House - Credit: Simon Peckham

The joint administrators of The House Collection – that includes Poets House, Ely- have denounced anonymous claims made by a protest group allegedly representing staff.

The boutique hotel chain – that includes Swynford Paddocks and employs some 70 staff- issued a statement last night refuting the claims made in a widely circulated two page letter.

A spokesman for the joint administrators, said: “These claims are without substance. We have stressed to all staff since the start of administration, through letters and via open employee meetings at the hotels, that they can approach us directly at any time with any ongoing concerns in respect of the administration of the hotels.

“Our door remains open and we would urge anyone with any concerns to come speak with us.”

Of one of the claims made in the letter about alleged non payment of wages, the spokesman said: “In particular, the claims about non-payment of wages for August are categorically false”.

Two founding directors of The House Collection- David Toulson-Burke, managing director and Jonathan Baker, finance director- were made redundant the day after the group was placed in administration last month.

The administrators pledged “business as usual” and said all 72 staff would stay on.

Most Read

The anonymous letter – sent to the Ely Standard purports to represent “past and some present” employees of both hotels. They claim to have formed a committed called The House Collective to protect their interests following the placing of both hotels into the hand of administrators BDO and the subsequent appointment of PAT Partners to manage them.

The statement contains sufficient information to clearly suggest the administrators accept it as genuine.

Administrators said they had received a copy of the letter that had prompted their response.

Last month Mr Toulson-Burke explained that on July 9, Eastern Counties Finance the lenders behind the hotels placed the company into administration.

Mr Toulson-Burke said: “House Collection had been working with ECF to arrange a re finance of the properties following on from recent litigation losses made upon the business from contractor issues with the build of the properties.

“House Collection has worked continually to reduce debt and bring the business model back in line.

“After being assured of a re finance deal with ECF, House Collection volunteered their business plans and model showing budgeted profits from May 2015.”

A month later, said Mr Toulson-Burke, ECF “offered monies for re finance and in return asked for full control of the business leaving the current owners / majority shareholders with a minority share and to become employees of ECF.

“This was refused and since this time the House Collection have sought and secured funds to re finance the asset and business debt. This offer was made to ECF but was quickly rejected without comment.”

He said: “Immediately BDO were appointed as administrators and have since taken over the day to day running of the hotels.

“Both directors are working with legal teams to recover their business and carry on the good will and profitable business model that they have spent the last three years creating.

“Within this new finance model all suppliers were to be paid and the businesses trading in profit as demonstrated to ECF. Despite offering this David and Jonathan are shocked that this was not acceptable to ECF thus leaving creditors who were to be paid along with staff employed within the group all at significant risk.”

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP issued a statement saying: “BDO LLP business restructuring partners, Sarah Rayment and Tony Nygate, were appointed joint administrators of House Collection Ltd on July 9 2015, together with Poets House Ltd and Paddock House Ltd on July 15.”

They explained at the time a strategic review of the options would take place whilst for the hotels it remained business as normal.