FRP Advisory appointed liquidators of Glasgow airport car parking investment companies
Paul Allen and Chad Griffin, partners at FRP Advisory, have been appointed joint liquidators of Drake Estates Property Company Limited and Aston Darby Group Limited.
The companies, which had raised approximately £25 million from investors, own a substantial and prominent car park site 2 miles from Glasgow Airport with a capacity for 1050 cars.
They had also been selling car parking spaces at a separate site near Manchester Airport. Investors contributed upwards of £25k per plot on the promise of high returns. Until recently the Glasgow site has been operated by ‘My Easy Park’, an online car park booking business.
The two companies appeared in the High Court in Manchester on July 3. Investigators uncovered that Drake Estates began trading in October 2016, selling parking spaces at a site in Lode Hill, Styal, Cheshire for £25,000. The site was close to Manchester Airport but was not owned by Drakes Estates.
Funds received were used to purchase the Lode Hill site in the name of an offshore company acting as trustee for Drake Estates.
The property, however, was subject to a unilateral notice and the transfer of the property’s title to Drake Estates’ trustee has still not been registered with the Land Registry.
The second company, Aston Darby Group, began trading a few months later in April 2017. It also sold car parking spaces at the Lode Hill site as an agent of Drake Estates, as well as spaces at a second site in Harbour Road, Paisley, Scotland.
The Harbour Road site was close to Glasgow Airport and again was not owned by the company.
Funds received from investors of both Lode Hill and Harbour Road were used to purchase the Harbour Road site. The property was registered in the name of an associated company before later being transferred to Drake Estates.
Investigators established that between October 2016 and December 2019, Drake Estates and Aston Darby Group sold circa 456 car park spaces at the Lode Hill site in Manchester for close to £11.5m. While Aston Darby Group sold more than 630 car park spaces at the Harbour Road site in Glasgow between April 2017 and December 2019 for more than £14.3m.
The companies sold individual car park spaces to investors for £25,000 each and guaranteed an 8% return over the first two years for investments at Manchester’s Lode Hill site. 11% returns were guaranteed to investors at the Harbour Road site in Glasgow for the first two years. Investigators, however, established that these guaranteed returns were paid to investors from the original investments rather than income generated by the car parks.
The companies made misleading claims in their sales brochures and marketing materials. Documents claimed that the sites were already generating yields of 8% and failed to make clear that the companies did not own the sites when initial sales were made.
joint liquidator Chad Griffin said: “We will be undertaking a comprehensive investigation into the car park investment scheme and various transactions that have been undertaken. We will also be assessing how best to maximise value for creditors, including short term management contract arrangements and an ultimate sale of the Glasgow site.
“Interested potential operators or acquirers are encouraged to contact the Edinburgh office of FRP as soon as possible.”
Both firms have ceased trading.