Concerns over Preston's new Shankly Hotel after sister venue goes into administration

City bosses remain hopeful Preston's new Shankly Hotel will open for business this year despite the failure of its sister venue on Merseyside.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 5:00 pm
Preston's Shankly Hotel is still not finished.

Concerns were raised when it was announced the property company which owns the Liverpool hotel of the same name had gone into administration.

With work on the Preston Shankly - in the former Post Office building overlooking the Flag Market - having apparently come to a halt, it was feared its future could be in grave doubt.

But administrators have given assurances that the rest of the Signature Living Group remains unaffected.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The proposed Shankly Hotel is in a prime spot overlooking the war memorial and Flag Market.

Preston's Shankly Hotel, named after ex-PNE player and Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, is already two years behind schedule - it was due to open in Spring 2018.

Stop-start work on the project has now come to a complete halt due to the coronavirus outbreak and there are no indications when it will resume.

Attempts by the Post to contact owners Signature Living have proved fruitless.

It is now four years since Preston City Council sold the old Post Office to Signature Living (Liverpool). Work on turning it into a luxurious 66-room boutique hotel began in 2017.

Adrian Phillips, the council's chief executive, told the Post: "We have heard the news that Signature Living (Liverpool), the sister company that purchased the former Post Office building, has gone into administration – it is clearly a very difficult time for businesses of all sizes.

"Clearly there have been significant delays to the project, but Covid-19 has made it incredibly difficult for both the construction and hospitality sectors.

"We are not in a position to speculate or comment on what is happening on that site. We continue to be incredibly ambitious for the city centre.

"The former Post Office building is important to Preston, both in terms of location and architecture.

"The Council will do whatever we can within our powers to ensure a successful future for this key building.”

Preston's Business Improvement District (BID) says it is not surprised work at the hotel has stalled "given the current circumstances".

But BID manager Mark Whittle said: “We do hope that, despite companies in the Signature Living family having encountered difficulties, the Preston hotel can still become a reality.

“The city’s accommodation offer has improved in recent years, but the Shankly Preston would be a key asset that we’d like to see realised”.

Administrators of Signature Shankly Ltd, the subsiduary company which owns the Shankly Liverpool building, are Duff and Phelps.

They say part of their role is to examine how funds were spent by the company before they were appointed on April 9.

It has been claimed that more then £10m of Signature Shankly Ltd cash may have been lent to other companies within the Signature Living Group.

The investigation was sparked when investors raised the alarm saying they have not been paid monies they were due from the hotel project.

"The company is part of a wider group of companies and understanding how funds flow around the group will be central to our investigations," revealed Mike Lennon, one of the joint administrators.