personal finance

Advisers quit Gavin Woodhouse firm amid financial allegations

Two of the most senior advisers to Northern Powerhouse Developments, the company owned by embattled financier Gavin Woodhouse, have quit the business in the wake of a series of allegations about its finances.

The departures have emerged a week after publication of an undercover investigation by the Guardian and ITV News, which raised questions about the business interests of Woodhouse, who has raised millions from private investors but whose firms have a multimillion-pound “black hole”.

Peter Moore, who helped launch Center Parcs in the UK and was NPD’s non-executive chairman of leisure, has quit after previously leading the development of Woodhouse’s £200m Afan Valley adventure resort in south Wales, which is backed by the television presenter Bear Grylls.

Moore said: “I have resigned from NPD because recent allegations are causing understandable concern to many of the organisations involved in delivering the Afan Valley project.”

Russell Kett, the chairman of the London office of hospitality consultancy HVS and a special adviser to the NPD’s board, has also resigned after claiming the group misused his “draft” figures to increase the value of its assets by £22m in its annual accounts.

Kett said he was embarrassed and “concerned [his] professional integrity is being called into question”. He said: “I have therefore decided to terminate my relationship with NPD and to withdraw from my role as an adviser to the company”.

Northern Powerhouse Developments (Holdings) – the company behind the Afan Valley resort, as well as 11 operational hotels – posted a £7m profit in the year to March 2018 and said its balance sheet had net assets of £11.2m.

Both figures would have been wiped out without a £22m hike in the valuation of its hotels. The accounts, which were personally signed off by Woodhouse, state: “All hotels have been independently valued by HVS.”

However, in a statement issued to the Guardian and ITV News, Kett said: “In February 2018 the valuation division of HVS London issued a draft report on nine of NPD’s hotels for their internal asset evaluation purposes only and to assist in their strategy initiatives; this was subject to a number of specific assumptions.

“A final version of this draft report was never issued because of outstanding information relevant to the valuation conclusions. As we were effectively waiting for crucial information to assist our valuations, any figures used in any professional capacity cannot be endorsed by HVS.”

A NPD spokesman said: “We engaged HVS to produce independent valuations of our properties. We strenuously deny any wrongdoing.

“We regret that Peter Moore has resigned. We can assure all concerned that we remain as committed as ever to delivering the Afan Valley project.”

NPD’s accountants, Williamson & Croft, did not comment.


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