Luxury trio hit the wall as economic climate bites

The company behind the Birch duo of luxury food and wellness retreats fell into administration this week. Birch Cheshunt (pictured) closed with immediate effect while Birch Selsdon is looking for a new owner – just a week after highly rated Pensons at the Netherwood Estate on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border also announced its imminent closure.

Both Birch venues occupy grand country mansions just outside London, and each hired high-profile chefs to run two restaurants on the site – Robin Gill of Clapham’s former Dairy in Cheshunt , and Lee Westcott (ex-Typing Room) in Selsdon, which launched only seven months ago on a 200-acre re-wilded estate near Croydon.

Robin Gill said in an Instagram post that his team at the Zebra Riding Club and Valeries in Birch Cheshunt had to “down tools with immediate effect” on Monday, adding: “I believe this is strictly a financial hit due to a lack of funds required for reinvestment into the sites that was needed to bring the properties up to standard.

Moorfields Advisory was appointed as administrator to the Selsdon venue after it ran into difficulties due to “cash constraints“. Moorfields partner Milan Vuceljic said: “We are currently continuing to trade the hotel whilst we explore various options, which we believe provides a good opportunity for potential purchasers.

Lee’s two restaurants at Birch Selsdon are its flagship Elodie, featuring ingredients foraged on the estate or grown in its kitchen garden, and Vervain, an all-day British brasserie. Ironically, Lee joined from Pensons, where he was the launch chef and set the high standards which earned the restaurant consistent top scores of 5 for its food in the Harden’s UK guide.

Announcing the closure from 22 December, Pensons’ owner and managing director Peta Darnley described it as “a very sad reflection of the economic climate we face”, citing “inflationary and interest rate pressures”.

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