Britannia Hotels is to be sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to a string of food safety offences at the 402-bedroom Adelphi hotel in Liverpool.
Appearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court today, the hotel group admitted breaching the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations Act 2013 during three inspections at the Adelphi in September 2015, and March and September 2016.
Environmental health officers from Liverpool Council found that the kitchen and food storage rooms were found to be unclean with rodent droppings, cockroach body parts and other detritus. There were no adequate procedures in place to control pests or prevent them from gaining access to the kitchen.
Prosecuting for Liverpool City Council, David Birrell said: "By its guilty plea, the defendant accepts its procedures were not adequate. The defendant's approach to pest control was reactive, rather than proactive."
In mitigation, William Hibbert, speaking on behalf of Britannia Hotels, said that the Adelphi is a "Liverpool institution", which as an historic Grade II-listed building has many areas which are difficult to access or clean.
"Very large hotel premises attract pests. The Adelphi hotel does not stand alone in being vulnerable to pests", he said, adding that a number of derelict buildings surrounding the Adelphi encouraged pest migration.
Hibbert said there were no cases of food poisoning as a result of the hotel's failure to comply with food hygiene requirements and that the guilty plea was entered on the basis of a low risk of contamination.
He added that there were areas in the kitchen which were difficult to access.
"It looks bad, but the dirt which was revealed when kitchen equipment was moved had accumulated over a period of years," he said.
"It's wrong to suggest this was a large infestation, although it was long-standing."
Britannia Hotels voluntarily closed the kitchen so the problem could be dealt with. A new management structure was introduced at the Adephi and an operations manager, who was suspended, later left the company.
Another manager received a written warning and all kitchen staff were placed on pest awareness training.
Mr Hibbert also said that the executive chef was chiefly responsible for cleanliness in the kitchens, and it was arranged that he should go on a refresher course.
He added that the pest control company Cannon thought "it was doing a good job".
In his summary, Hibbert said that Britannia Hotels accepted "medium culpability" and highlighted that steps had been taken to remedy the problem, had co-operated with the investigation and had a good food safety record, although admitted the Adelphi had had previous problems.
District judge Andrew Shaw adjourned the hearing, announcing that he will pass sentence on Thursday.
Located within a Grade II-listed property built between 1911 and 1914, the Adelphi hotel was once one of the flagship properties within British Transport Hotels (BTH). The decision in 1982 for British Rail to sell its hotel division (BTH) resulted in the Adelphi being acquired by Britannia Hotels, a company that had been founded six years earlier by Alex Langsam.
Today Britannia Hotels owns 54 hotels and has an annual turnover of £84m.
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