Speaking after planning applications were lodged to build apartments on the sites of the Stafford, Revere and Apollo Hotels – with rumours of an application for another site being imminent – Simon Soar said that ‘the reality’ was that some businesses would not survive.
Although the Apollo’s owner yesterday said his decision to close had been made in 2019 and was not linked to the pandemic, Mr Soar said others did not have the means to survive the crisis.
‘Let us be quite clear here. These businesses could drop soon. Businesses like these are not normally that set and do not have that much money in the bank to allow them to ride out a storm of this length of time,’ he said.
‘While I hope that not a single business will have to close, the reality is that not all businesses are going to survive and I hope that the level of government support will be sufficient to stop companies from having to make that terminal decision.’
He added: ‘We are in a position here where businesses are having to deal with one of the hardest periods of their existence. In the past month they have been closed and they have been making no money and, in the six months prior to that, they were operating significantly under capacity. These guys are struggling.’
Despite the potential loss of tourist accommodation, Mr Soar said he sympathised with hotel owners and could understand that some would need to sell.
‘During what is such a difficult time, we understand that decisions have to be made in the best interests of the business.
‘While it is easier to turn around and say “get someone else to buy it and run it”, in the current climate no one is going to pay a good price for a hotel.
‘I do not begrudge anyone looking at selling a hotel while we are in this situation.’