Midlands venue The Belfry’s ‘Magical Journey’ Christmas attraction has ended with the organiser going into liquidation owing £875k.
The company behind the failed attraction which closed one day after opening in November, Magical Journeys Ltd, had hired Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen as a consultant designer.
It transpired a major financial backer had pulled out nine operating days before the opening. The event experience prompted immediate negative feedback on social media and, although the attraction later reopened (before shutting the doors again on 16 December), organisers claimed they had been “left in the lurch” without a replacement backer.
On 12 January insolvency specialists from accountancy firm Chantrey Vellacott’s insolvency partners Craig Povey and Kevin Murphy were appointed to liquidate the firm.
A creditors’ meeting was held at the accountancy firm’s Birmingham offices on Calthorpe Road, following a referral from a fellow independent member of accountancy association DFK International based in Ireland.
Povey said creditors were owed in the region of £875,000.
“The directors of Magical Journeys Limited faced a number of significant challenges and attribute the failure to a combination of poor weather hampering site preparation, the temporary closure of the attraction, leading to negative publicity which had an impact on ticket sales, and higher than anticipated costs.
“When anticipated investment failed to materialise they had no option but to close the attraction early.
“Following our appointment as liquidators we are in the process of reviewing creditors’ claims and investigating if there are any assets which can be realised. We’ll be reporting back to creditors with the results of our investigations into the company’s affairs in due course.”
Bowen had claimed after the initial closure that he was “really impressed” with the way organisers addressed all the issues and was “extremely surprised” when the towel was thrown in.
He also defended the project’s basic premise, describing it as “a perfect opportunity”.
“I really did feel (organiser) Paul Dolan and his team were the right people to do it. In hindsight they absolutely were not experienced enough for this sort of event. I was just commissioned to create some design concepts for the experience. There was no financial backing from my point of view and no involvement in the management. I feel very much I was the designer and I’m a very public face so people are cross with me,” Bowen said.
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