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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Deal saves Carlisle hotel from closure

A hotel which went into receivership has been saved from closure with the new owners pledging to save all 30 jobs.

Brian Barnes photo
Brian Barnes

Father-and-son business team Brian and Dean Barnes now have the keys to the 53-bedroom Cumbria Park Hotel in Stanwix, Carlisle, after paying just short of £850,000 - nearly £1 million shy of its original price tag.

Mr Barnes senior, originally from South Africa, said it would join its other Cumbrian enterprise, the Lonsdale House Hotel in Ulverston.

“It is all good,” said Mr Barnes.

“We are retaining all the staff, keeping it going and looking at really driving up the weddings, functions and meetings markets.

“We want to make the restaurant great again, also. We are very pleased. The hotel is very much open now.”

Dean added: “I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to take ownership.

“With investment and community support, we want to give this charming hotel the future it deserves.”

“We intend to develop trade to cater for private functions, weddings and conferences which we feel will be a successful market within the Carlisle area.”

The sale follows months of uncertainty for long-standing owners the Lowther family, who ran the three-star hotel in Scotland Road for more than 40 years.

It went into receivership in May with the bank owed £1m and thousands in other liabilities. It had been run by Brian and Tricia Lowther, who are still making sense of what it means for their financial position.

Mrs Lowther said: “As far as we know, it’s sold. The sale has gone through but it will be a while before we have any details from the receivers and everything is clear and tied up.”

She said it felt a “weight off the shoulders,” adding: “It was a nightmare running it at the end - just trying to keep the doors open.

“But I genuinely wish the new owners all the best. I hope all the jobs are safe because a lot of the staff have been very loyal to us.”

Of their financial position, which has seen them put their home and cars up for sale, she said: “There’s still a hill to climb and we are taking everything in stages.

“The sale is one stage and there’ll be another and then we will know where we are financially and be able to move forward.”

She paid tribute to local people for coming forward to support the hotel after the News & Star broke the news of its difficulties.

Said Mrs Lowther: “People have been coming to us wanting to help us, give us money and my brother has offered us his flat. It has been absolutely tremendous – lots of kindness.”

The hotel was sold by real estate advisers Colliers International on the instructions of receivers Baker Tilly.

Neil Thomson, associate director of Colliers in Manchester, said: “After an extensive marketing campaign we received interest from several parties.

“I’m delighted the hotel has been sold to existing hoteliers because this will secure the future of the hotel and its staff.”

The hotel had net turnover of £855,010 in 2011. As well as more than 50 en-suite bedrooms, it has six function/meeting rooms.

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