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Jobs go as hotel and pub shut

TWO Kent outlets have closed following the collapse of the Maidstone-based London & Edinburgh Swallow Group.

The Harrow Hill Hotel at Lenham, near Maidstone, and The Hop Inn, Paddock Wood, are among 20 hotels and managed pubs closing across the country with the loss of 220 jobs.

A spokeswoman for administrators Ernest & Young said 13 people at The Harrow Hill had been affected, with an unknown number at the Hop Inn. She added that there had been inquiries about the businesses and this was a good sign.

Administrators said they had been exploring every possible avenue to save these sites since the group went into administration on September 14 but had been unable to find buyers.

Angela Swarbrick, joint administrator, said: "It is unfortunate that despite negotiation with interested parties, it has not been possible to conclude a sale of these hotels and pubs to secure their long term future. Regretfully, we are no longer able to continue trading the sites affected."

The troubled group, run from offices in Medway Street, Maidstone, operated eight Kent hotels, including Stone Court, Maidstone, Larkfield Priory, Chaucer, Howfield Manor and Falstaff, all in Canterbury, The Shurland, Sheerness, Kent International, Ramsgate and Londsdale Court, Cliftonville.

The group also owned numerous bars, including Zebra and Ashes, Maidstone, and Stocketts, Coxheath.

The Swallow group was the fastest growing hotel chain in the UK, expanding from 13 hotels to 180 in just three years. But insiders claimed the group expanded too rapidly.

It was one of the UK’s biggest private hotel and pub businesses, employing more than 7,000 people and operating almost 700 hotels and bars.

Administrators raised a glimmer of hope last week by revealing that they had found a possible buyer for the business and asssets of 240 hotels and pubs.

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