Jobs appear safe as four-star Wigan hotel is flogged off by debt-ridden parent company

One of Wigan’s plushest hotels has been sold.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 9:11 am
Updated Friday, 21st June 2019, 10:11 am
Kilhey Court is under new ownership
Kilhey Court is under new ownership

Kilhey Court at Standish was one of 27 outlets put on the market by cash-strapped Macdonald Hotels in a bid to cut its debts.

How much was paid to a private equity firm and real estate investor for the four-star Worthington-based premises has not been disclosed, but it appears that jobs will be secure and it is “business as usual” for both staff and guests.

The group, run by 72-year-old founder Donald Macdonald and his family, was in the red by more than £700m a decade ago.

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And while this has radically come down since, it has been feeling the squeeze since the onset of the recession in 2008.

Mr Macdonald said: “The board carefully weighed up all the proposals and unanimously agreed that selling the majority of the hotels to a new, well-funded investor will enable them to realise their full potential, both as hotels and in terms of the significant development potential on several of the sites.

“This is excellent news for the 2,200 loyal employees based at these hotels, their 190 colleagues in our central support team and also for our valued customers and suppliers.”

Most of the 27 hotels offloaded are in Scotland where Macdonald headquarters sit, but several are in the North West, including Kilhey and the Madonald Tickled Trout at Preston.

The sell-off leaves the company with only 11 hotels in its portfolio both home and abroad. Macdonald recently posted pre-tax losses of £1.1m.

Kilhey Court was built buy brewer Thomas Fairhurst in 1884 as an ultimate wedding present for his wife Elizabeth and it remained a home for a century before becoming a hotel in 1983.

At that point it had been purchased by the former owner of the The Bellingham Hotel on Wigan Lane, Roy Thomas, for conversion. The work was completed by Rodstock Leisure who also added extensions.

It passed onto Principal Hotels after the former went into receivership, then Virgin Hotels and then Macdonald Hotels in the summer of 1996. In 2013 it was the subject of a £440,000 makeover.

Set in 10 acres of land, the hotel boasts 62 rooms and large function facilities, making it a popular venue for weddings and school proms.

Past guests have included former foreign secretary William Hague and Hollywood star Russell Crowe.