Revenue drop fails to deter Peter Armitage’s growth plans
THE FINANCIAL backer behind Scotland’s newest “exclusive use” conference and event facility is pressing ahead with further investment despite revenues falling dramatically in the first half of the year.
Retired fund manager Peter Armitage has invested close to £7.5 million of his personal wealth into Ardoch, which enjoys panoramic views of Loch Lomond. The 58-year- old expects to complete the transformation of three cottages on the estate into a new conference suite for up to 20 people will be complete this month. The expansion adds to the 133-acre complex’s existing 18 bedrooms, restaurant and conference space which has been built around a traditional farmhouse.
The venue is aimed at the market for corporate events and away-days, but business has been slow, Armitage admitted.
Bookings fell off dramatically in the first half of this year and revenues at Ardoch fell to £60,000 in the first half after bringing in income of £135,000 in 2011.
Operating Ardoch as a charity, Armitage maintains hopes that corporate customers will underwrite the facility’s use as a base for Scottish young people’s charity, Columba 1400.
“The more corporate business we get the more we can help the kids,” said Armitage.
The scheme aims to bring in £350,000 to £400,000 a year, based on three-nights-a-week use by top payers. Initially the project was on target to bring in £240,000 this year but it is now expected to fall about £100,000 short of this.
“If we get occupancy three days a week we are doing what we need to do – anything over and above that is going to result in lower prices for Columba 1400 when they come here,” said Armitage.
“The first half of 2012 was excruciatingly slow – we didn’t make much revenue at all. But the second half of the year the diary is looking quite full – we will do a much better second half, which should get us the level of 2011 turnover or slightly above.”
The venue has attracted business from London management development firm ReConsulting, the British Red Cross, the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, Raytheon Systems and the Institute of Directors.
A Yorkshireman, Armitage had originally wanted to develop a charitable project in his home county. It was only when a friend suggested he look at Ardoch that he opted to open doors in Scotland. It was then he discovered that his father’s side of the family had been based 25 miles from the site where Ardoch is based.
He said: “I am an optimistic character. We will achieve what we want to achieve. The economic situation doesn’t help us – charities are finding it difficult to get funding, businesses are cutting back on excess spend – but that won’t last forever.”
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