'Scottish music scene has been exploited by Virgin Hotels'

Glasgow musicians say Richard Branson's brand must take responsibility for unpaid invoices.

Virgin Hotels Glasgow went into liquidation suddenly in December – just four months after its grand opening.

Now, musicians claim they are still owed thousands of pounds by the site’s managing firm.

And while all Virgin Hotels are owned independently, they have told STV News it’s on Richard Branson’s brand to take responsibility.

So how did this all begin? And where do they stand now?

Hundreds lose jobs days before Christmas

The plush hotel on Clyde Street, meant to stand out as part of the Glasgow skyline, shut down suddenly just four months after its grand opening in August – leaving around 130 workers jobless.

The plush hotel on Clyde Street stands out as part of the Glasgow skyline.STV News

Uncertainty had been looming after the property firm behind the hotel, Lloyds Developments Limited – which Virgin Hotels has a management contract with – fell into administration due to financial difficulties on December 1.

It is understood the company which operated the hotel, V Hotel Glasgow Limited, had insufficient funds to continue operations.

‘Around £15,000 owed to DJs and musicians’

Musician David Toule, who runs Curious Pig Entertainment and booked talent to perform at the hotel, has claimed that about £15,000 is owed to various performers.

Dave Toule told STV News Virgin needs to 'take responsibility'. STV News

He claims that he is personally owed around £5,000 for booking acts and performing at the hotel, and believes it’s now up to Virgin Hotels to pay up.

“The last thing we imagined was, for a company like Virgin which has its roots in the music industry to effectively exploit local artists and exploit the Scottish music scene,” David told STV News.

Uncertainty had been looming after the property firm behind the hotel fell into administration on December 1.STV News

“To me that makes this even more absurd – the fact they’ve [Virgin Group] not reached out to try and resolve this, despite my numerous requests.

“All issues we had with late payments – the only reason we kept performing was because we were being reassured that payment was coming from Virgin Hotels Group.”

‘No respect’ for performers that trusted the brand

Glasgow DJ Catriona Beckett performed at the hotel every weekend for almost four months. She was promised a steady job and stable pay, as long as her disco beats kept customers happy.

But week after week, the unpaid invoices just kept on building – to the tune of £3,000.

“I just don’t feel there’s much respect for any of us. If anything, I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of,” Catriona told STV News.

Glasgow DJ Catriona Beckett performed at the hotel every weekend.STV News

She said despite the invoices going unpaid, she continued to take bookings until the hotel shut down because she trusted Virgin’s reputation.

“I was repeatedly told I wasn’t being paid due to admin errors and excuses about how long it takes for invoices to be processed.

“But obviously there was something much bigger going on that I didn’t know about and the other musicians didn’t know about either.”

Catriona said she had a “sinking feeling” in her stomach when she heard about the hotel shutting down.

“I had in my head that I would be paid eventually, because Virgin is a brand that people know of and trust…but that hasn’t happened yet.”

Liquidators estimate there STV News

Virgin Hotels declined to provide STV News with a comment on these claims, but reiterated it had tried to purchase Virgin Hotels Glasgow and keep it in operation – however, this was not accepted by the lenders who now intend to pursue a sales process with the hotel closed.

But even after the sale is confirmed, liquidators FRP Advisory estimate there “would not be sufficient funds” to pay performers who are owed money.

Dave said: “It’s £15,000. We’re not talking millions here, it’s £15,000.

“It may mean nothing to them, but it means everything to the local musicians who’ve been impacted. For a self-employed Scottish artist who’s striving to make a living, it means everything.

“So what we’re really after is for Virgin Hotels to stand up and take responsibility for the mismanagement of its hotel and pay up.”

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