Why Hastings Pier was sold to Abid Gulzar

Hastings Pier has officially been sold to Sheikh Abid Gulzar after '˜careful assessment', according to the joint administrators behind the sale.

Abid Gulzar the owner of Eastbourne pier (Pic by Jon Rigby)
Abid Gulzar the owner of Eastbourne pier (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Adam Stephens and Finbarr O-Connell, of Smith and Williamson LLP, explained what inspired their decision to transfer the business and assets of Hastings Pier Charity – the organisation that runs Hastings Pier – to Mr Gulzar.

In a statement after the pier was sold, administrators said: “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

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 April 12, 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 April 12 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.”

What did the Heritage Lottery Fund say?

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 Hastings’ prosperity and culture.”

‘The pier holds special memories’

Kevin Boorman, spokesperson for Hastings Borough Council, added: “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.”

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