Two days before Christmas, an array of Dreamland’s “creditors” (people to whom Dreamland’s operators haven’t paid their bills) will trudge into the cleanly modern confines of Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, to decide whether they’d prefer their money back in five years, or potentially not at all*. Debts amount to £6,811,972.14.
Less than 24 weeks after the triumphant reopening of this symbol of Margate’s resurrection, what looked set to be a phoenix is looking more and more like a chimera; £30 million been spent, yet already losses are unsustainable and debts have gone through the roof since June’s panicked opening.
The operating company, Sands Heritage Ltd (which blames Thanet District Council for many of its woes) thinks it can pull it back and forecasts turnover off £7 million by 31 November 2016. It’s an ambitious target, now the initial fizz of great publicity has worn off and the Trip Advisor reviews grow increasingly mixed.
With labour costs and overheads alone predicted to be £2,591,000 and £3,265,000 respectively, even if these bullish revenue projections are achieved, net profits would be just £169,000. Industry experts I spoke to yesterday said (on condition of anonymity) that they found the forecasts unrealistic. “I’d give it until April” one told me.
How this has come to pass is a subject for another day. I have a string of pending (and overdue) FOI requests in with Thanet District Council and have had plenty of conversations with people involved and I hope to have more.
I personally think it takes two to tango, to tangle your feet and fall on your face quite so badly; it is certainly premature for Sir Roger Gale MP to be laying the blame solely at TDC’s door, although they have many questions to answer.
In the meantime I thought I’d share the full ‘company voluntary arrangement’ (CVA) proposal of Sands Heritage Limited which fell into my lap in all its 106-pages of glory. Clearly the big question now is if the operator goes into liquidation, what happens to the Dreamland site on which they have a 99-year lease?
2.11: Leasehold improvements, which include the lease to the premises, have a book value of £3,426,429. These assets are subject to a fixed charge in favour of the bank.
Oh dear. I’m going to be writing much more on this anon. And if you have something you want to share, publicly or in strictest confidence, do get in touch with me; my contact details are on this blog. Meanwhile, hit this link for the full CVA document.
*SHL suggests 36p for each £1 it owes to unsecured creditors might be possible…