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Trump Scottish golf resorts claimed over £3m in furlough

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Donald Trump’s golf courses and leisure businesses in Scotland claimed over £3m in UK government furlough money, newly-published accounts show.

Covid restrictions caused substantial losses at Trump resorts in Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire with both companies reducing staff.

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Trump Turnberry saw turnover more than halved and it recorded a loss of more than £3m in 2020.

The other course and resort at Balmedie also reported a loss, of £1.3m.

Donald Trump’s mother came from the Isle of Lewis, and the former US president is said to have spoken fondly of his Scottish ancestry.

He opened his first golf resort on the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire in 2012, amid opposition over potential environmental damage, and later tried to stop a wind farm being built off the coast, arguing it would spoil the view.

In 2014 he bought the Turnberry golf resort in South Ayrshire from a Dubai-based company.

He handed control of both courses to his sons Donald Junior and Eric shortly before he became president in 2017, but he retained a financial interest.

Critics of Mr Trump recently lost a legal bid to force the Scottish government to investigate how he paid for the courses, using an unexplained wealth order.

According to accounts filed with Companies House, Golf Recreation Scotland Ltd, which owns the Turnberry golf course and resort, saw turnover fall from £19.7m in 2019 to £6.7m in 2020.

It made a profit of £321,000 in 2019, and a loss of £3.4m in 2020.

The resort was closed from 23 March to 15 July 2020, and again from 20 November to 26 April 2021.

The company received a total of £2.3m in grants under the furlough scheme in 2020, the accounts say, while the average number of employees fell from 541 to 289.

A subsidiary of the company, SLC Turnberry Ltd, made further furlough claims of between £435,000 and £1.1m from January to August 2021, according to government data not included in the published accounts.

“Government support was helpful to retain as many jobs as possible, however, uncertainty of the duration of support and the pandemic’s sustained impact meant that redundancies were required to prepare the business for the long term effects to the hospitality industry,” say the accounts, signed by Eric Trump.

Trump golf course in Aberdeenshire, also saw a steep drop in turnover, from £3.3m in 2019 to £1.1m in 2020, although the company’s losses rose only slightly, from £1.1m to £1.3m.

The accounts note that while golf was permitted for much of the year, the Macleod House hotel was closed from 21 March onwards, and the restaurants and dining facilities only opened in June and closed again on 20 November.

“The UK government furlough scheme was helpful to retain as many jobs as possible, and the majority of employees were reinstated over the course of the year,” the accounts say.

The company received £452,000 in from the furlough scheme in 2020, according to the accounts.

Separately, government data shows that Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited claimed between £85,000 and £205,000 of furlough money from January to August 2021.

The average number of employees fell from 84 in 2019 to 63 in 2020, the accounts show.

The ultimate controlling parties of both companies are the trustees of the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, registered in Florida, the accounts say.

Business Matters Magazine

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