By Mick Jensen
Receivers have taken over the running of Hotel Ashburton while a new owner is sought, but, for now, it’s business as usual.
The hotel business was sold by Ashburton Trust to Hotel Ashburton (2016) Ltd in November 2016, but land and buildings were retained by the trust.
Hotel Ashburton (2016) Ltd’s directors are Peter Whittaker and his daughter Georgina Whittaker.
Mr Whittaker owns the New Orleans Hotel, in Arrowtown and The Rockpool in Christchurch.
The hotel operator defaulted on last month’s rent instalment to the trust and was issued with a notice that receivership could follow if no payment was received by January 18.
Ashburton Trust had been monitoring the situation for a number of weeks, but had had to comply with its own contractual obligations, said Ashburton Trust president Fay Watson.
The receivers would now run the business until a new buyer was found.
The board had made the step to call in the receiver in advance of a liquidation hearing for Hotel Ashburton (2016) Ltd in the Christchurch High Court today (January 25), said Mrs Watson.
“We believe that calling in the receiver is a better option for the Ashburton community because the receiver can continue to operate the business while a buyer is found and then can sell it as a going-concern, whereas the likes of Inland Revenue is more likely to want to sell the chattels and close the doors.”
Bringing in the receiver brought more certainty for staff, customers and suppliers.
The aim was very much to keep Hotel Ashburton open and generating revenue, said Mrs Watson.
Malcolm Hollis and John Fisk from Price Waterhouse Cooper have been appointed as receivers by the trust.
Malcolm Hollis, who is Mid Canterbury raised, said Hotel Ashburton, in effect, had begun operating as a new business from January 19.
He had started the process of talking to staff and suppliers and it was very much “business as usual”.
Future revenue generated from the hotel would be used to pay salaries, suppliers and also possibly rent.
“Over the next few weeks we’ll be releasing an Information Memorandum and asking for expressions of interest from potential buyers.
“The sale could be completed in as little as three months, or it could be longer, depending on the interest generated,” said Mr Hollis, who has ben involved in a number of hotel/bar liquidations and receiverships.
His job was to get the best price for the business and the best way to do that was to show it as a trading enterprise.
Hotel Ashburton employs around 50 staff, the majority of which are part-time.