Macdonald, Apex and English Lakes hotel groups enter into consultation with staff over redundancies

11 June 2020 by
Macdonald, Apex and English Lakes hotel groups enter into consultation with staff over redundancies

Macdonald Hotels Group, English Lakes Hotels and Apex Hotels have entered into a consultation process with staff, with around 1,800 jobs at risk at Macdonald.

Macdonald Hotels Group, which has 2,299 employees and 31 hotels and resorts throughout Scotland and England, has seen a total collapse of income over the past three months and began issuing consultation notices to employees yesterday.

Group deputy chairman Gordon Fraser said: "We had really hoped to avoid this very unwelcome step, but with no realistic prospects of a return to anything like normal trading for the foreseeable future, we were simply left with no choice. Potentially, we are looking at around 1,800 roles at risk, in all areas and at all levels of the business.

"The government's furlough scheme has helped to a degree but our essential operating costs, insurance and some wages are still having to be paid, meaning our monthly cash outgoings are still running at £2m while we are forced to remain closed. Even after cutting all non-essential spending and with senior management and our remaining staff accepting reduced salaries, the current situation is simply unsustainable.

"There is no realistic prospect of us returning to anything approaching normality for the foreseeable future and, whilst it's enormously regrettable, we simply must take these steps to ensure that we have a meaningful business when this situation ends, enabling us to bring back as many of our employees as possible.

"We are seeing more and more of our counterparts being forced into the same very difficult decisions to either close completely or to cut back on hardworking and valued members of staff. It's a tragedy."

Apex said the process would affect employees across its portfolio of 10 hotels throughout the UK, including its Edinburgh headquarters, but there is no indication at this stage of the number of redundancies that could be made.

Angela Vickers, chief executive at Apex Hotels, said: "Throughout this period we have made use of the government's Job Retention Scheme with the aim of protecting jobs for as long as possible, but the impact coronavirus has had on our industry has been devastating. Our sector will be the last to reopen, and when we do it will be with many restrictions in place on how we can operate.

"Around 40% of our travellers come from overseas so international quarantine measures combined with strict two-metre social distancing rules will all be a reality and severely impact our business. Without additional hospitality sector support, it is simply not feasible for us to open our doors and resume trading anywhere close to pre-Covid-19 levels.

"Our entire group has an average monthly occupancy of less than 10% from now until the end of the year. Normal occupancy levels at this time are over 90%. This dramatic downturn in business, coupled with the uncertain economic outlook ahead, has forced us to restructure our team and look at how we operate going forward and survive this crisis.

"The Apex Hotels brand has been built on the strength of its people, so discussing potential redundancies is something we never wanted to consider. We will continue to do everything in our power to improve our position, but we know that it will take time for our business and the industry to bounce back. Our commitment to recovery and rebuild remains stronger than ever, and our sole focus will be on welcoming guests again and returning to usual staffing and business levels as quickly as we possibly can."

Meanwhile, English Lakes Hotels (which has five hotels in the Lake District and north Lancashire including Low Wood Bay and Lancaster House) has identified 42 positions across the group as being at risk.

Simon Berry, managing director of English Lakes Hotels, said: "English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues has along with almost every other hospitality business in the United Kingdom and indeed the whole world been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown restrictions. Whilst we are planning now for reopening it is anticipated that we will need to operate with reduced numbers of customers for some time and therefore may need to make some roles redundant...

"It is with huge sadness and regret that these difficult decisions are having to be considered. As a family we have operated our hospitality and hotel business for 68 years in the Lake District and north Lancashire and have never had to take such a difficult decision, even in the worst of recessions, and the foot and mouth crisis, job redundancies were very largely avoided.

"However, with the future so uncertain and the potential of entering the winter season having hardly had any summer business, we must do everything we possibly can to protect the business and therefore the vast majority of the workforce."

They are the latest hotel companies to undergo a consultation period with staff in the UK, including Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Crieff Hydro, OYO and PPHE Hotel Group.

Fraser added: "Everyone understands that drastic steps had to be taken to halt coronavirus but the only way out of this for our industry is when the current restrictions are eased significantly, and people feel comfortable returning to hotels and restaurants.

"Given the enormous importance of the tourism and hospitality sector for local economies the length and breadth of the UK, it is incumbent upon both the Westminster and Scottish governments to do everything they can to support our industry. If they fail to do so, many long-standing and well-loved businesses will simply not survive, scarring some of our most fragile communities for years to come."

Further hospitality redundancies expected as Marriott enters consultation process >>

Wave of redundancies as distancing and end of furlough bring business realities into focus >>

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