The entrepreneur Gavin Woodhouse has failed to complete on the purchase of a hotel in Devon, losing his investors hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In 2018, Woodhouse began selling rooms in the Moorland Garden - a hotel on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park which is owned by Brian Meaden, the father of Deborah Meaden, a panellist on the BBC show Dragons’ Den.
Woodhouse marketed the property as the Foxglove Hotel and rooms were offered to investors for upwards of £80,000 each.
The hotel has 44 bedrooms and in recent correspondence with investors, Woodhouse's company Northern Powerhouse Developments (NPD) claimed the hotel was "fully subscribed".
Gavin Woodhouse exchanged contracts to buy the hotel and was due to complete the deal in January 2019 but failed to produce the funds.
Woodhouse missed several further deadlines and the deal has now fallen through. A non-refundable deposit on the property understood to be well in excess of £500,000 has been lost.
The details of the failed deal are contained in documents submitted to the High Court last week on behalf of creditors to Woodhouse’s businesses, when the entrepreneur lost control of three of his companies and a judge ruled his business model appeared to be “thoroughly dishonest”.
The hearing came days after ITV News and the Guardian published the results of an investigation into Mr Woodhouse’s business interests, including NPD.
Since 2013, Woodhouse has raised more than £80 million from amateur investors to build care homes and to acquire and refurbish hotels but many of his ventures have stalled, some have barely started, some investors aren’t being paid their returns and millions of pounds appear to be missing from the accounts of Woodhouse’s companies.
The Witness statement of Phil Duffy, a managing director of the insolvency firm Duff & Phelps, who the High Court appointed as an interim a manager of three Woodhouse businesses last week, said: “Now that the purchase [of the hotel] has collapsed and the deposit has been forfeited, the investments of any investors whose monies were used to fund the deposit paid by the NPD Group will have been lost.
“This is a matter of obvious and very serious concern as, quite simply, investors’ monies should not under any circumstances have been used, or put at risk, in this way and, given the financial position of the NPD Group... it is very difficult to see how those investors’ monies will be returned to them”.
In court, Judge Sally Barber referred to the failure of the deal as “disastrous”.
Gavin Woodhouse strenuously denies any wrongdoing and says investors funds are in bank accounts.
A spokesman for NPD said: “We remain in discussions with the owners of the Foxglove Hotel and, despite the recent setbacks and media campaign against us, we’re still hopeful of a purchase”.
The owner of the Moorland Garden, Brian Meaden, told ITV News and the Guardian that he “formally withdrew from negotiations some time ago”.