Welcome to Yorkshire began considering administration 'exit strategy' months ago

Tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire began considering the prospect of entering administration more than six months ago, it has been revealed.

By Chris Burn
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 9:08 am

A report by administrators Armstrong Watson reveals the company was initially engaged by Welcome to Yorkshire to provide ongoing assistance in September 2021 after the future of the tourism agency “became uncertain” and advice was provided on “potential exit strategies”.

It was announced that month that chief executive James Mason would be leaving the business and he departed in October.

Chairman Peter Box had been due to stand down at an AGM in November but in October he cancelled the AGM and announced he would stay while a consultation on WtY’s future was conducted with local tourism firms.

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Welcome to Yorkshire

In January, Armstrong Watson provided additional advice to WtY which included a suggestion of going into administration – a course of action that was subsequently taken at the start of March after council leaders confirmed they would no longer be provided public funding.

The report said: “Advice was provided to the board around potential exit strategies and a further report was produced by AW to the company in January 2022 after the board had determined three potential outcomes on which AW were able to provide advice.

“The options were absorption by the local authorities, cessation of trade or a ‘pre-pack’ of the business via administration. Continued trading was only viable if the local authorities agreed, through the Yorkshire Leaders’ Forum, to continue to support the company financially.”

Local council leaders commissioned a report into the future of Welcome to Yorkshire conducted by Merran McRae, a former chief executive of Wakefield and Calderdale councils.

In February, that concluded there was “no long-term future” for WtY, with council leaders deciding to end public funding of the tourism agency and it was placed into administration at the start of March. The report also reveals that Armstrong Watson was engaged by Welcome to Yorkshire in summer 2020 as the agency sought a £1.4m bailout from local councils to keep it afloat.

The report states: “AW were engaged by the company in July 2020 initially to review the company’s proposed business plan to support the funding request, as well as a review of the options for the company, including both formal and informal options.”

Members to get subscription fees back

Money is being returned to former Welcome to Yorkshire members, administrators have said.

The report said Welcome to Yorkshire had around 900 active membership subscriptions at the time of going into administration.

While a number of members cancelled subscriptions when the administration was announced, more than £4,000 has been paid in via direct debit since then.

The report said: “Any advance subscriptions not drawn down following the sale are now being repatriated back to the respective members.”