Needham Market: Hotel to open in a fortnight

THE new owner of a popular hotel has said he expects to re-employ most of its former staff when the site reopens in two weeks.

Twenty-five employees were made redundant when The Limes Hotel in Needham Market closed last month.

The pub was owned by the Elizabeth Group, elements of which went into administration in December 2009.

The administrators KPMG managed to sell the group’s other hotels and pubs but could not find a buyer for The Limes.

It stayed open until early March, but was closed at short notice before being auctioned off in London on Monday.

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The pub was purchased at auction for �500,000 by Richard Cattermole, the property entrepreneur behind the Elizabeth Group, who last night said he would re-employ the former manager and as many staff as possible.

He said: “All the staff were made redundant a month ago – most had worked there for over 20 years and I felt it was very hard for them.

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“We hope to open in a fortnight and the majority of the original staff are being employed, including the manager.

“We have got to spend some money on it but I don’t think there’s anything that’s going to stop us opening soon. We need to re-stock the hotel as well.”

KPMG was appointed administrator of the Ipswich-based business in December 2009 after a winding up petition was served over VAT, wages and National Insurance liabilities totalling �1.5m.

The administrators continued to operate the group’s 13 pubs and 14 hotels while buyers were sought.

The liabilities related to three subsidiary companies, Elizabeth Hotels, Elizabeth Estates and Cavendish Hotels, which were owned by Mr Cattermole.

The Limes was the only hotel that went unsold and, despite the best efforts of regulars, it was closed on March 1.

He said: “I felt very sorry for the staff at The Limes. I’m sure if they (KPMG) had put it on the open market and marketed it correctly they would have sold it a long time ago and not had to make people redundant.

“They are lovely people (employees and customers at The Limes) and I know most of the regulars there. I’m sure (manager) Geoffrey Rackham will be very successful there.”

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