The redundancies were announced on Wednesday 3 February amid “permanent closures” of properties operated by Bespoke. Fragrance had leased several of its properties to Bespoke, The Lyndene and St Chads in Blackpool, The Townhouse in Manchester and The Duke of Cornwall in Plymouth.
Fragrance Group said it was “shocked to be notified late on Wednesday 3 February by staff employed by Bespoke Hotels that Bespoke had made all their staff redundant without warning”.
In a statement, it said: “Fragrance are now forced, due to a lack of communication from Bespoke Hotels and the incorrect information Bespoke Hotels have given staff, to clarify that Fragrance have offered extensive support and worked tirelessly since the pandemic forced hotel closures to arrange a way for Bespoke Hotels to continue to operate Fragrance’s properties.
“Fragrance are dismayed that Bespoke Hotels have not offered equivalent support to keep these hotels running (despite continuing to support and operate some 80 other hotels during the pandemic) and have now caused distress to numerous families without notifying Fragrance.”
It added: “Bespoke Hotels put forward no feasible solution to the financial issues faced by the companies running their hotels and have offered no support from the wider Bespoke Hotels Group of companies.”
In an official statement responding to the criticism, Bespoke offered its “deepest regrets and sincerest sympathies” to all those affected by the situation.
It said it had informed Fragrance Group on 22 January 2021 that the properties were in difficulty and it had “no other option” but to formally appoint an insolvency practitioner. It added it had held a virtual meeting with the affected hotel staff on 2 February and that the redundancies were, “sadly, a necessary part of that process”.
Bespoke said it was “extremely saddened by the impact the permanent closures will have on the hotels’ staff and their local communities and we have done all that we can to avoid having to do so”.
In a statement, the group said: “As soon as the scale of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the hospitality industry materialised, we initiated negotiations with the Fragrance Group to try and come to a sustainable financial arrangement that would allow the four hotels to continue trading.
“Despite exploring all avenues across the course of many months, the devastating effects of almost a year of enforced closures, combined with an 80% drop in sales since the pandemic began, has decimated the hotels’ revenues.”
It added: “With an ongoing national lockdown that still has no definite end date along with ongoing overheads we’ve simply been left with nowhere else to turn.”