Signature puts flagship hotels up for sale

The Shankly and 30 James Street hotels in Liverpool are on the market as developer and operator Signature Living looks to fund its expansion programme.

Signature said that the Shankly Hotel is valued at £40m, with the smaller James Street location valued at £17m – the business last week announced that it has bought out this project’s original investors, having funded the project by fractional sales.

Lawrence Kenwright’s business now has projects at various stages of the planning and development cycle. Locally, these include the Dixie Dean Hotel, an expansion of Alma De Cuba, the Cavern Walks Hotel and Kingsway House, where it plans to convert 1960s offices into apartments.

Also in the North West, Signature has plans for the 1824-built Rainhill Hall in St Helens, where it won consent in 2018 for a wedding venue and hotel. In April, reworked plans emerged for the Commercial Hotel site in Liverpool Road, Manchester, now proposed to house the 42-bedroom Quality Street Hotel. In 2017, Signature submitted plans for an apartment project at Victoria Mill, Miles Platting.

A second Shankly Hotel has been advanced in Preston – a £15m, 60-bedroom redevelopment of the city’s former Post Office building, which is due for completion imminently.

In Belfast, Signature is behind the George Best Hotel. In February, the Irish News reported that the £15m project had been beset by delays, pushing its estimated opening date back to this summer. In the same city, Signature bought the War Memorial Building in Warring Street in March 2018, announcing plans for a 43-bedroom hotel conversion, while two further Belfast schemes have been mooted.

Signature has also been engaged in Cardiff, where in 2016 it signed a development agreement with Cardiff City Council for a £35m phased redevelopment of the Coal Exchange – it is now working on the final phase. The group also has plans to launch its first cruise ship enterprise in Spain.

The business opened the Titanic-themed 30 James Street hotel – formerly the headquarters of the White Star shipping line – in 2014. The 63-bedroom hotel includes a spa, conference and events hall. Signature announced last week that it has now bought out all original investors in the hotel, having funded the development through fractional sales.

James Street was followed a year later by the 125-bedroom Shankly Hotel, in Victoria Street, which also features conferencing and event space.

Signature Living chairman Lawrence Kenwright said that the hotels are now “famous all over the world,” becoming “tourism beacons in their own right and turning over incredible profits”.

He added: “The profits from the sale of the hotels will allow us to fuel our major expansion plans as we aim to add another 10 hotels to our portfolio, along with increasing our workforce from 1,400 employees to 3,000 in the next 18 months.

“There is already huge international interest in purchasing the hotels from us. We are carefully considering options and over the last couple of days have discussed our decision with employees and other stakeholders.

“This is an exciting new era for Signature Living. We’re positively looking forward to the future – a future that involves new flagship hotels not only in Liverpool but all over the UK.” Kenwright has been one of Liverpool’s more prominent developers over the last decade, but more recently has clashed with the council over heritage projects including Croxteth Hall and Everton Library.

At this stage, no agents or advisors have been appointed on the hotel sale process, Place North West understands.

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I said it when I saw the story about his Salford criminal gang inspired (yeah…) hotel, and I’ll say it again – Manchester can do better than this lot.

And to be fair – Liverpool doesn’t deserve it either.

I mean no disrespect to the man, he’s turned a profitable successful business. But come on, look at the Shankly in Liverpool, look at the proposal for the Manchester hotel – we can do better.

By Daveboi

Looks like the beginning of the end for this firm. They have massive borrowings from too many angry private investors via ludicrous 10% loan note payments and 8-9% yields on fractionally sold hotels rooms that remain incomplete or requiring loads of remedial work. Investors ROI not paid for over a 9 months in some cases and that is before that latest round of excuses have been made. Old Hall Street is a shambles. When all is said and done, an over promised but under-delivered ego trip.

By Carl

Signature Living… Lol!
Enough said…

By Anonymous

I think both the James St Hotel and the Shankly could be so much more. Lets hope the new buyers can do this! take the TV screens out the dining area – have a dedicated ‘sports bar’ area. take the pop up banners down advertising tours.

As for the James St – again lovely hotel – but seems to have focused more on the hen party market. It could be so much more. Quality St gang them is a bit misguided – agreed think its an attempt at the thriving peaky blinders ‘industry’. I am thinking of a Frank Sidebottom themed hotel – and that’s not a joke! Unsung hero of Greater Manchester.

By Lizzy Baggot

Ponzi scheme ?

By barny

1,400 employees! Goodness, such growth! In their filed to March 2017 accounts it states the average monthly number of employees was just 660. And in this fluff piece https://www.boutiquehotelier.com/market-marvels-lawrence-kenwright-co-owner-signature-living/ and others more lately, for just last month the figure of 840 was mentioned.

Unfortunately I can’t report what the latest official accounts say, as they are stated as being overdue as of March 29th, according to Companies House webcheck.

Anyway, I am puzzled: Surely if one was to want to double one’s workforce, wouldn’t one retain large operations, rather than dispose?

By Mike

The Shankly is a great hotel. Manchester doesn’t have an equivalent for hens / stags etc

By YS

Let’s have less of this sort of poor quality development, I’m sure they’re a good business (despite Lawrence’s striking off as a director in the past) but we do need a much better approach to design and construction

By Paul Smith

I notice they didn’t show a picture of the top of that horrendous building.

By Anonymous

Well well well. Have some massive liabilities to pay off do we?…..

By Anonandon

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