Signature Living parent company collapsed owing £112m to unsecured creditors

 The George Best Hotel. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Ryan McAleer

THE parent company of the hotel group behind the George Best Hotel in Belfast collapsed owing unsecured creditors around £112 million, according to a report.

Signature Living Hotel Ltd is the ultimate parent company of Lawrence Kenwright’s Signature Living Group. A report prepared by the joint administrators has revealed that the group includes around 60 different entities, including a handful of companies in Belfast.

Michael Lennon of the London-based Duff & Phelps was appointed as joint administrator to Bedford Hotel Ltd in April 2020 by property development loan firm Lyell Trading.

The company is the trading name for the unfinished George Best Hotel.

At the time, the administrators said the intervention had been made by the lender “in order to protect its investment and provide a platform from which the hotel can be completed”.

The hotel in the former Scottish Mutual Building was to be one of five hotels originally planned in the city by Mr Kenwright.

The Liverpool developer also acquired the former Crumlin Courthouse and the former Royal Ulster Rifles Museum on Waring Street in Belfast. Both buildings were later put up for sale.

In a report prepared for creditors, Duff & Phelps said Signature Living Hotel Ltd employed 172 people, with 162 placed on furlough prior to administrators being called in.

It states that, according to company records, a total of £111,921,594 is owed to unsecured creditors.

The report states that the sum is expected to rise due to a number of retail investors continuing to contact the administrators.

Outlining the complexity of the administration, the report adds: “Due to the complex nature of the Signature Group, including inter-company loans, its assets, outstanding liabilities, secured and unsecured loans across the various entities within the Signature Group, it is not anticipated the administration will be concluded within 12 months.”

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