Memorandum submitted by Dovedale Towers
I attach a small piece below. We thought a moment
about this, knowing they would try and make life even harder for
us as a result of us submitting the piece, but then realised they
couldn't make it any worse. I will outline the main headlines.
We do know that during this process it would appear that we have
made mistakes. When we spent money on the place for example we
should have sat down more forcefully with them to negotiate, but
we did try. Any attempts to do that took ages with Enterprise
and we didn't have ages.
We bought the business in July 2007. We acknowledge
that we were not hot on the schedule of dilapidations and other
legal matters at the time. We actually spent £9,000 prior
to acquiring the place, madness I know, to have the first floor
refitted as conference and training rooms. Enterprise have a £10,000
deposit of ours.
Unbeknown to us the previous trading figures
were heavily dependent on trading after hours. The main drag near-by,
Allerton Road, shuts at 12 and Dovedale was the late drinking
den that everyone headed to. Locals were up in arms about the
noise just after 12am as people arrived and then again between
two and three as they departed generally much the worse for wear.
The previous owners had told them very bluntly what they could
do with their complaints.
On 24 August 2007 two people were shot on the
doorstep, both surviving, and trade fell off dramatically. We
spent nearly £20,000 on setting up a new restaurant/bar concept
called Lief, which in hindsight was clearly too "fancy"
for the local community and within a few months we were down-grading
it to a pub, this time spending a couple of thousand. Locals said
they were very happy with that but trade was still about half
We have recently had another company try and
assign the lease off us. We were told that we would have to pay
for dilapidations work to be done (on items that were in exactly
the same state of repair when we took over). This immediately
looked like them trying to get money off us so that we would never
get our deposit back. I wrote saying that and was told that was
not the case. Enterprise would not listen to our request for them
to take a view on dilaps because of the money (circa £30,000
not including own labour) we had spent transforming the building.
At the same time we then received threatening
letters asking us for £8,000 for trading out. I simply saw
this as more efforts to hold on to our deposit so I stopped the
dd suspecting that they would simply start taking our money. Within
a matter of days there was a bailiff here and talking openly about
why in front of staff and customers while counting our chairs.
We do suspect that the previous manager may have done some trading
out, in error rather than for personal gain.
With the dilapidations and the legal fees we
spent over £7,500 on the aborted sale, again excluding own
We have had no assistance with the business
at all from Enterprise. We think a double shooting on the doorstep
is what we would deem extraordinary circumstances and yet they
are totally uninterested. They told us a month ago that we would
be able to buy out for £10,000 to £20,000 and they have
since added that is only if we have a new assignee lined up. If
we had a new assignee why would we pay any money?
They also told us that rent was based on rateable
value and on trade. We sent them the trade figures showing the
horrendous downturn and details of a rateable value reduction
we have been able to arrange. They now tell us that this does
not merit a reduction in rent. The rent is £47,000 per annum
including all the add ons.
In the past three weeks we have worked flat
out to try and get a plan together for next year that will make
enough to break even and have sent that plan with a request for
assistance to Enterprise. We think the pace can be turned around
but need assistance as the new initiatives build up. When this
is shortly refused, I will then be inviting them to come along
and collect the keys and sue myself and my fellow Directors for
our guarantees. That is the last straw obviously but without help
it is a cheaper option.
I am unable to borrow any more money personally
and Enterprise collect their rent without break. We make about
49% GP on the site and could buy everything cheaper in the local
supermarket. We currently take about £4,800 a week and our
fixed overheads are £3,200.
This grand old building has some great history.
The Quarrymen played here in 1957 after John Lennon had joined
them. It could be a good business but without a partner it can't
8 December 2008