30 James Street was a disused, derelict property in Liverpool city centre before Lawrence Kenwright acquired it. Against all the odds, the Liverpool entrepreneur managed to secure investment and redevelop this iconic building into a luxury hotel in only three months, restoring the home of the Titantic back to its former glory.
Battling between securing investment and ensuring the conservation of the historic, grade II* listed property, Lawrence risked everything. But it paid off: the businessman turned a £5 million investment into a business model worth £15 million.
And now, you can watch the story of one man’s dream to create an iconic hotel in the heart of Liverpool, and how it kick started a business that would expand into a spectacular hotel empire in just 4 years.
A new video on Lawrence’s YouTube account exclusively reveals how he pulled off this incredible restoration, and the business-savy mindset it took to ensure the success of 30 James Street, one of the best hotels in the UK:
The Economic Realities of Developing an Iconic Hotel
In the video, Signature Living’s founders Katie and Lawrence Kenwright tell their story of what it took to get one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings back on its feet.
Explaining how they came up with a plan to make economic sense of restoring the building, Lawrence details the impressive investment pitch he completed in Singapore, successfully securing investment.
“I turned up in Singapore, right of the plane and into a room with 700 Singaporean investors in front of me and I had to get up for an hour and a half and do a pitch and I’d never done it before,” says Lawrence, “I didn’t know what I was saying, I was just rambling on and on and on”.
By the end of the pitch, however, the investors were suitable impressed – Lawrence had secured £5 million in investment. Keen to get started, he set the deadline for the completion of 30 James Street as Ladies Day at the Grand National, only 9 weeks after the investment money was made available to him.
“Why on earth did he chose Ladies day?” questions Katie Kenwright in the video, “I couldn’t understand the rationale, why would he want to put himself under that stress? Both of us under that stress? Why not just have stability in our life for a while? But he had this insatiable desire to buy this building and I’ve supported him to this day, so why not do it now?”
The Madness Begins
In the video, you can watch as the build goes ahead at 110 miles an hour, in the rush to complete the hotel before the deadline.
From the basement being two-foot under water (Lawrence wanted to turn it into a spa), to uncovering the building’s historic period features under ugly, late-2oth century office-décor, the rush to transform 30 James Street was rife with obstacles, not least aggressive health and safety regulations and an unhelpful conservation officer.
“There’s a lot of grey areas with buildings such as this and what you can and cannot do,” says Lawrence in the video, “I think there’s a fine line between conserving buildings for generations to come, which is what I stand for and what I believe in, and new uses for these buildings. These buildings can have the same DNA, but they can’t have the same use.”
The Importance of a Team Effort
As the build progressed, a key part of Lawrence’s development strategy was making sure he was on-site at all time, so that he could make decisions quickly and effectively, and the video charts some of the hilarious stories and unbelievable anecdotes about how the workmen on-site felt having Lawrence as a constant presence at the build.
“Lawrence actually worked on the site himself. He owned the company and he was working alongside the lads” says Dave Hailwood, Property Construction Director at Signature Living.
Alongside some of the inspirational leadership Lawrence shows, you can hear one memorable story in which he remembers how he met two workmen carrying 25 gallons of paint up the huge staircases at 30 James Street. The two men stopped after one flight, struggling to carry the load.
“I come up behind them, grab them (the paint buckets) off them from the bottom floor and I’ve ran every step of the way. And I’m running up these stairs as fast as I can and I’m dying”, Lawrence says, chuckling, “And the guys come up saying ‘How did you do that?’ and I’m going ‘It was easy’, while my lungs are going to explode, but that’s what we had to do every single day!”.
In another ‘standard day at the office’, Dave Hailwood remembers Health and Safety officials bringing an A4 printed photo to him of a man, wearing a high-vis jacket, sitting on the apex of the hotel roof eating a sandwich. When Dave took the photo to Lawrence, furious that some idiot had been climbing on the roof with an eight or nine story drop beneath him, the director remembers the Signature’s chairman hanging his head. “That was me” Lawrence sheepishly admitted.
But, as the video shows, the madness of the 30 James Street development is a key part of Signature’s DNA and the driving force behind how Lawrence launched his multi-million pound empire in just a few years.
The Start of an Empire
“Let me let you into a little secret,” Lawrence admits in the film, “Don’t think for a minute that I knew what I was doing when I took on 30 James Street. I didn’t have the knowledge, I didn’t have the team and I didn’t have the funds and I learnt on the way.”
But what the entrepreneur did learn was that at the heart of making Signature Living and 30 James Street a successful business was a true love of restoring heritage buildings to preserve them for generations to come. This became the lifeblood of his future empire.
And at the end of the video, the self-made businessman lets you in to a key business secret that has been the root of his success – but you’ll have to watch it yourself to find out what that is!
For more exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Lawrence Kenwright’s success and the story behind some of Signature Living’s most impressive transformations, make sure you subscribe to his YouTube channel here.
If you’ve been inspired by this incredible video, why not book a stay at the historic 30 James Street and experience this spectacular restoration project first hand? Call our team on 0151 236 0166 or email firstname.lastname@example.org