Losses more than double to £10m at Donald Trump's Turnberry resort

Losses at Donald Trump’s flagship Scottish golf resort have more than doubled to £10m, marking the fifth consecutive year under his ownership it has failed to turn a profit, newly published accounts show.
Turnberry remains reliant on loans of 115m, up nearly 8m from the previous 12 months. Picture: John DevlinTurnberry remains reliant on loans of 115m, up nearly 8m from the previous 12 months. Picture: John Devlin
Turnberry remains reliant on loans of 115m, up nearly 8m from the previous 12 months. Picture: John Devlin

The US president’s Turnberry resort ran up losses of more than £10.7m last year, meaning that since he took over the historic property in 2014, it has lost nearly £43m.

It comes as Mr Trump’s most prestigious overseas resort is at the centre of a Congressional investigation into US Defence Department spending and patronage.

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The House Oversight and Reform Committee is also looking into US military spending at the Scottish Government-owned Glasgow Prestwick Airport, and its ties with Mr Trump’s South Ayrshire hotel and golf course.

As revealed by The Scotsman last week, the Trump Organisation's plans for a major expansion of Turnberry by rezoning swaths of prime agricultural land to make way for housing and luxury villas - a venture seen as crucial to returning the historic venue to profit - have been rejected.

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The new filings with Companies House reveal that over the course of 2018, Turnberry's parent firm, Golf Recreation Scotland Limited, lost £10.77m on a turnover of £18.41m.

In the previous 12 months, Turnberry lost £3.38m, with turnover standing at £15.2m. That represented a significant stemming of the record £17.6m losses posted in 2016, during which time the course was partially closed to allow for refurbishment works.

The accounts also show that the resort remains more reliant than ever on Mr Trump for its finances. It owes the 73-year-old £115m, money that he provided in the form of interest free loans. That is up from £107m in 2017.

The cost of sales rose from £9.7m to £11.5m over the same period. Administrative expenses were also up from £6.5m to £7.1m.

In his director's report accompanying the accounts, the firm's sole director, Eric Trump, executive vice president at the Trump Organisation, wrote: "Trump Turnberry achieved tremendous success in 2018 as the property recorded its highest annual revenue (turnover) in the resort's stories 113 year history.

"Now in its fifth full operating year under Trump Hotels ownership. Trump Turnberry has established itself as Scotland's premier destination for luxury travel, championship golf and special events."

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He added: "As part of an ongoing multimillion pound renovation, ownership continues to improve and modernise the property's facilities including nearly upgraded villas, enhanced spa and wellness offerings and an outdoor guest activity centre which will be fully completed in 2020."

The accounts also confirm that the firm's subsidiary, DT Connect Europe Limited, has sold its "main asset" to a "company under common control for £600,000.

The firm was set up to oversee a luxury helicopter charter business and the asset in question is one of three Sikorsky S-76B helicopters owned by Mr Trump.

As revealed by The Scotsman last month, the helicopter has been shipped back to the US amid falling demand and a refusal by some customers to fly in the aircraft with its prominent TRUMP branding on display.

The accounts add that "no further revenue is expected to be generated" by DT Connect Europe, and that it has been "discontinued."

Mr Trump visited Turnberry last July on a “working visit” to the UK, playing two rounds of golf at the historic property.

That month,The Scotsman revealed the US State Department paid SLC Turnberry Limited - a subsidiary of Golf Recreation Scotland - more than £50,000 towards accommodation costs in connection with the visit.

A series of further payments by the department has brought the total spend by the State Department to more than £75,000. The Scotsman’s reports on the expenditure have been cited by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has demanded the full disclosure of the “questionable” payments.

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Although Mr Trump’s second son, Eric, is predominantly in charge of redeveloping Turnberry, it remains ultimately owned by the US president via a New York-based entity called the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust. It has just two trustees - Mr Trump, and Allen Weisselberg, the veteran chief financial officer of the Trump Organisation.

Accounts recently filed for Mr Trump’s inaugural Scottish resort in Aberdeenshire show it remains mired in the red after running up losses of more than £1m in 2018.

Trump International Golf Links posted annual losses of £1.07m in 2018, marking the seventh consecutive year it has failed to turn a profit, according to the filings with Companies House.

The company remains reliant on interest free loans provided by Mr Trump worth £40.6m. Its staff count also fell from 84 to 77.

When Mr Trump promised to build the “world’s greatest” golf course, he promised to create 6,000 jobs in the north east of Scotland.

The development has run up cumulative losses of more than £9.4m, but is set to expand with a new village-style development dubbed the Trump Estate.

The venture will see 500 homes and 50 holiday units built, with Mr Trump’s firm promising to spend £147.2m..

It was approved at a full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council despite thousands of objections and warnings from inside the local authority that the plans represented a “weak substitute” to what the Trump Organisation originally proposed for the area more than a decade ago.

A separate council committee has also approved plans for a second golf course at the site, which is expected to be named after Mr Trump’s Lewis-born mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump.

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