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Sleepwell boss cries foul over Sefton deal

A major player in the hospitality sector has hit out at the Manx government's £4.5 million bailout for the struggling Sefton Group.

Managing Director of Sleepwell Hotels Mark Wilson says the deal has created a 'biased and dysfunctional commercial environment' which will unfairly skew competition.

In a statement the Sleepwell Hotels' boss says government has made the struggle to succeed in a difficult environment 'all the greater' by favouring one enterprise over another.

The bailout has been justified on grounds the Sefton Group supports 300 jobs and spends £7 million in the economy annually, providing a quarter of all hotel beds in the Island.

But Mr Wilson says the intervention has 'clear negative implications' for those in competition with Sefton Group across various sectors and will hinder operators from securing private investment in future, while the Sefton Group is free, in his words, to begin anti-competitive discounting.

He draws a comparison between the Sefton's multi million pound debts and the investment his company has made in its hotels on Douglas promenade in recent years.

Mr Wilson further points out that Sleepwell Hotels' parent group tendered to re develop the former former bus station on Lord Street in Douglas, a commitment to the Island which proved unsuccessful. He concludes there is now little rationale for further investment by Sleepwell into its hotels in the Island.

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