The business and assets of Hastings Pier Charity, the organisation that runs Hastings Pier, have been successfully transferred to Abid Gulzar. The Pier, which was the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize winner in 2017, had Adam Stephens and Finbarr O’Connell, of Smith & Williamson LLP, appointed as joint administrators on 24 November 2017.
After careful assessment of all offers received for the pier, the successful transfer to Abid Gulzar, the owner of Eastbourne Pier, has allowed a going concern transfer of both the Pier and of the business run on the Pier. This will help secure the future of this heritage asset. All existing contracted events are scheduled to go ahead as anticipated.
Adam Stephens of Smith and Williamson LLP, lead administrator, said:
“We received a significant number of expressions of interest in this beloved asset, and a number of concrete offers ahead of our deadline of 12 April 2018. This deadline was set on the advice of our agents, GVA Grimley, and allowed sufficient time for the Pier to be fully marketed and to give the new owner the benefit of the summer months trading period.”
“It is now a little over two months since that 12 April deadline. Subsequently, we have spent considerable time with a number of the bidders, meeting them, discussing their offers and assessing their viability, and subsequently receiving refined offers from them.”
“The bid we received from Mr Gulzar, and on the recommendation of my agent, was able to best demonstrate the capacity to take the Pier forward. Overall, Mr Gulzar demonstrated the best immediate financial capability as well as the operational capacity and experience, including from running Eastbourne Pier. It is anticipated that significant cash for working capital and investment purposes, amounting to over a million pounds, would be required to make the pier sustainable.”
“We have been working hard with all stakeholders to create other protections for the Pier’s future and heritage assets. Therefore, the sale is subject to a reversion clause, which means that in the event that the Pier is resold in the next two years, there are certain provisions which are in favour of Hastings Borough Council acquiring it. We also want to highlight that the key heritage assets of the Pier will be preserved and put on permanent display in the Hastings Museum, allowing future generations the opportunity to understand and appreciate the significant cultural impact of the Pier.”
“Trading costs, associated with the pier in administration, have now been limited by the transfer of the Pier at this time.”
“Finally, and very importantly, I want to say thank you: to the staff, to the volunteers, to the charity’s shareholders, to the people who use the Pier, and to the many other stakeholders involved with the Pier. Thank you.”
Eilish McGuinness, Director of Operations at the Heritage Lottery fund, said:
“We were saddened that Hastings Pier Charity had to make the decision to enter administration and we funded the process to allow the pier to remain open while future options were considered. Today’s decision by the administrators will ensure this Stirling Prize winning Pier has a sustainable future and continues to make a significant contribution to Hasting's prosperity and culture.”
Kevin Boorman, spokesperson for Hastings Borough Council, said:
“The Pier holds special memories for many people, local residents and visitors alike, so we are delighted that we are able to preserve these important heritage assets for future generations at our museum.”
By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of publication.
Notes to editors
Smith & Williamson is an independently owned professional and financial services group with over 1,800 people. The group is a leading provider of investment management, financial advisory and accountancy services to private clients, professional practices and mid-to-large corporates. The group has twelve offices; these are in London, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cheltenham, Dublin (City and Sandyford), Glasgow, Guildford, Jersey, Salisbury and Southampton.