independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Bill Cullen reveals staff at former hotel not allowed to speak to him

Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin at the five-star Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry

Businessman Bill Cullen has admitted that staff at his former hotel in Co. Kerry are not allowed to speak to him.

"‘The staff are not allowed speak to us, they’re not allowed communicate with us in any way, shape or form,’’ his partner Jackie Lavin said.

‘‘They’ve got solicitors letters to say that they’re not allowed speak or engage with us in any way whatsoever.’’

The couple were speaking to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, 15 months after Bill’s car dealership and hotel business went into receivership.

 

His business empire collapsed as his Renault dealership in Dublin went into receivership in 2012 followed by his five-star Muckross Hotel in Killarney.

 

‘‘It kills me to drive past it but yes we go down there because we love Kerry,’’ Jackie said.

 

Bill insisted that staff at the hotel did not have a grudge against him because he provided jobs and a great business when he was in charge.

 

The 71-year-old insisted that his businesses did not collapse due to over borrowing.

 

‘‘First of all the motor industry turned down, secondly are distributor wasn’t prepared to support us and thirdly are banks certainly didn’t want to support us.

 

‘‘Suddenly this hits you and there’s nothing you can do about it, you’re in the hands of the banks,’’ he said.

 

Bill’s brother, a senior executive is his company, died of a heart attack within a week of the company going into receivership.

 

Ireland's best known car dealer admitted, ‘‘we lost everything.’’

 

‘‘If everyone had calmed down and everybody has given us the time, we had other franchises ready to come in,’’ his partner Jackie insisted.

 

The business was once a nationwide network of Renault dealers operated by the self-made millionaire.

 

But after 55 years, every car, van, tool and display case in the dealerships were sold off and 45 employees at the businesses were made redundant.

 

‘‘We were preforming and we never defaulted on our loan,’’ Jackie said.

 

‘‘When the main bank pulled, it was like a domino effect because then the others then decided that we wouldn’t be able to sustain or prop up these loans because the main cash cow is gone,’’ she explained.

 

The couple said they were paying interest bills ‘‘right up until the day they pulled the plug.’’

 

 

Bill has just been appointed the official dealer of the SSangYong franchise on the Naas Road in Dublin.

 

It has been named 'Bill Cullen Premier Motors' in his honour.

 

He borrowed money from family and friends to open a new car dealership.

 

‘‘I never ever look back, other than to learn from it and go forward. I’ve learned an awful lot.

 

‘‘I don’t blame anyone except myself,’’ he said.

 

Ashling Phelan

 

 

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