The Penn Club in ‘perilous position’

Pandemic causes financial crisis for club in its centenary year

The Quaker-affiliated Penn Club is in a ‘perilous position’ after bookings have stayed significantly low since the lockdown.

Fegral Crossan, general manager of the club, told the Friend that bookings were down in July from a usual ninety-one per cent to three per cent. He said if the downward trajectory continues, the club would be forced to close. ‘Things are getting hairy’, he said. ‘Since we opened in July, our occupancy has been very suppressed and we’re going to start running out of money. At the moment we are living off our reserves. We normally run at eighty per cent occupancy, but we had three per cent occupancy in July and we’re forecasting thirteen per cent occupancy for August. We’re hoping that bookings will pick up in autumn, but so far that isn’t happening. Forty per cent of our business comes from overseas visitors, but of course there’s not much international travel at the moment. The time will come to decide in the next three months.’

According to a letter sent to the club’s regular non-members who stay there, ‘the outlook for the next few months is concerning, with pre-bookings not getting above 7 per cent’. The letter says the club received the ‘Good to Go’ certificate from Visit England saying that the measures put in place make the club ‘Covid Secure’.

The club, which was established in 1920 with funds left over from the Friends Ambulance Unit, celebrates its centenary this year, with a garden party planned in July, where commissioned artwork was to be unveiled, followed by other events. All have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Fergal Crossan said: ‘Our biggest problem is that we don’t own our own building so renting is our biggest outgoing. Our landlords have not been very amenable, but we’re not giving up and we’re still in negotiations.’

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