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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Scotland still a cash sink-hole for Trump's golf resorts

Two facilities post losses of more than £4.5m despite US President's huge investment

Donald Trump at Turnberry golf club Scotland. Mr Trump lost millions at his Scottish golf resorts. AP
Donald Trump at Turnberry golf club Scotland. Mr Trump lost millions at his Scottish golf resorts. AP

After sinking more than £150 million (Dh718.4m) into his Scottish golf courses, US President Donald Trump is yet to make a profit.

His two resorts posted a combined loss of £4.64m in 2017, according to the latest filings in the UK. Of that, Mr Trump’s flagship Turnberry 800-acre resort on Scotland’s west coast lost £3.38m, the fourth consecutive annual deficit since he bought the club in 2014.

The results, some of the few that have been disclosed for Mr Trump’s businesses worldwide, show he’s had to pump millions into the resorts to cover shortfalls while trying to cap costs. Eric Trump, who was upbeat last year about the prospects for Turnberry to make a profit, this year called the Scottish golf business "competitive and challenging, factors that can be heightened by adverse weather conditions".

It raises questions about whether the backlash against his divisive presidency has harmed the business. Mr Trump’s visit to his Scottish resorts in July sparked demonstrations in Glasgow and Edinburgh while the Scottish government demanded the UK refund policing costs for the weekend, which followed his meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.

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The loss at Turnberry at least was smaller than the £17.6m in 2016, when Mr Trump closed the resort for six months to renovate the hotel and open another course.

Losses from the Trump resort near Aberdeen on the North Sea coast declined slightly, to £1.26m from £1.41m in 2016, though revenue also fell. The Trump Organisation moved to cut costs by reducing staff. Mr Trump, who has spent years clashing with locals over planning and environmental concerns, hasn’t made a profit from his Aberdeen resort since opening it in 2012.

"The crash in the oil price and economic downturn experienced in the north-east of Scotland has, however, resulted in a drop to local spending and consequently revenues have decreased by 3 per cent," Eric Trump wrote in a letter accompanying the accounts. "By establishing cost controls and containment, the property was able to reduce its loss."

Despite the challenges, the Trump Organisation plans to spend another £150m building 500 homes, 50 vacation cottages and sports facilities as well as shopping and equestrian facilities to expand the Aberdeen resort, saying it will do so with its own financing.

The company submitted plans to Aberdeenshire Council for approval, saying the second phase of the development will create 300 full-time jobs. It expects to start work next year if it wins planning approval.