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Donnelly Group gets creditor approval for plan of arrangement

Nearly two dozen businesses employing nearly 1,000 workers depended on creditor approval to stay open
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Donnelly Group principal Jeff Donnelly is elated that creditors have supported his company's plan of arrangement

Troubled pub owner Donnelly Group yesterday earned unanimous support from dozens of creditors for its plan for how to compensate them for money owed. 

The company owns 18 hospitality businesses, three barbershops, a cleaning company and the brewery Bomber Brewing. It needed creditors to approve its plan of arrangement in order to continue on the path to leaving creditor protection, which it entered in May.

Its businesses remained open, but risked closure if a financial deal with creditors did not happen. 

The next step is for BC Supreme Court to officially sanction the amended plan of arrangement at what is set to be a July 26 hearing. 

Donnelly Group principal Jeff Donnelly told BIV this afternoon that the creditors' support was vital to save his 900 to 1,000 employees' jobs. 

"The vast majority of our creditors didn't take haircuts," he said. "That's one of the reasons we got the plan approved unanimously."

Bank of Montreal is Donnelly's biggest creditor but he said that there were dozens of others. He said he was not able to provide more details about the creditors or the plan of arrangement. 

"We're very excited, mostly just because everybody got to keep their jobs," Donnelly said.

His businesses span the country, but most are in B.C., as he is based in Vancouver. 

Vancouver pubs that would have been impacted if creditors did not approve the plan include the Granville Room, Cinema Public House, Ballyhoo Public House, Three Brits Public House among many more. 

"This is a clear signal that folks that our industry are still recovering financially from the pandemic," Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees told BIV this afternoon. 

"This is one of the largest and most successful pub chains in Vancouver's history."

Guignard added that the news also highlights how creditors are willing to work with distressed hospitality businesses.

Donnelly separately was a principal at the cannabis retail chain Dutch Love, for which parent company Lightbox Enterprises Ltd. went into creditor protection late last year

Unlike with the Donnelly Group, Lightbox' creditors could not agree to a plan of arrangement and the company was forced to liquidate assets, Donnelly said. Calgary-based SNDL bought four Dutch Love cannabis stores and intellectual property for $7.8 million.

Donnelly comes from a pub-owning family, given that his father, Peter Donnelly, owned a series of hotels and bars in Vancouver, Victoria and later Seattle.

gkorstrom@biv.com

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