Two founding directors of Ely and Six Mile Bottom boutique hotels group fight to regain control after administrators called in

Ely Standard Business Awards 2013. New Business of the Year, Poets House. presented by Quotient Bioa

Ely Standard Business Awards 2013. New Business of the Year, Poets House. presented by Quotient Bioanalytical Sciences. - Credit: Archant

Two founding directors of The House Collection- that owned both Poets House, Ely and Swynford Paddocks, Six Mile Bottom near Newmarket- were made redundant the day after the group was placed in administration.

Poets House, Ely

Poets House, Ely - Credit: Archant

However it is business as usual at both hotels and the administrators said they would retain 72 employees.

However David Toulson-Burke, managing director and Jonathan Baker, finance director have been made redundant.

A third founding director, Ian Cross, resigned, according to Companies House records, last October.

The three friends were former members of the management team at the Belfry golf course and hotel in Warwickshire when they left to set up The House Collection.

Poets House

Poets House - Credit: Simon Peckham

Their first project was the 21-bedroom Poet’s House in the centre of Ely which opened two years ago and was followed by their purchase of Swynford Paddocks.

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

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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.

Poets House, Ely. External Study at Night.

Poets House, Ely. External Study at Night. - Credit: Simon Peckham

“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.

Poets House, Ely

Poets House, Ely - Credit: Archant

“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.

“The companies, based in Ely and Newmarket, own and operate two boutique hotels in Cambridgeshire, the Poets House in Ely and Paddocks House in Newmarket.

Poets House Ely. Afternoon Tea being served by Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams.

Poets House Ely. Afternoon Tea being served by Butler, George Telford. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

“The administrators have retained all 72 operational staff that are currently employed across both hotels. The directors of House Collection Ltd have been made redundant.

“The joint administrators will be undertaking a strategic review of the options available, whilst the underlying businesses continue to trade as normal.”

The joint administrators have appointed a local operator, PAT Partners, to support management with the continued operations of the hotels.

Mr Toulson-Burke has described opening of the Poets House Hotel as “the realisation of a long-cherished dream to run my own hotel in my home town.”

He spoke at the time of having on board “two brilliant business partners, Ian Cross and Jonathan Barker, and for all of us the launch followed two years of intense hard work to create The House Collection small luxury hotels brand and open our first boutique hotel”