Down and out in Cannes

Howard Kennedy left hotel-free at Mipim as trip organiser goes bust

Mipim – the property industry’s March get-together in Cannes – is an expensive shindig. Given that a bottle of lukewarm beer at networking hotspot Café Roma will set you back €6 (£5), you can well imagine the many thousands of pounds law firms spend securing accommodation and the like for the four-day event.

So the last thing a firm needs is the pain of incurring needless expense when it comes to Mipim, but unfortunately that is exactly what Howard Kennedy got hit with when the events company it had engaged to arrange various aspects of its trip, Genesis Adoration, went bust, owing the firm just over £6,000. And the hassle of rebooking hotels was probably even harder to bear than the financial cost.

“We used [Genesis’] services to make various bookings – flights, hotels and restaurants – which, when they went bust, meant we had to rebook at the 11th hour at significant extra cost,” said Howard Kennedy CEO Mark Dembovsky. “The flight bookings were safe, but the hotel wasn’t.”

Not that Howard Kennedy was the only firm left out of pocket when Genesis went under. DLA Piper’s US business has two claims against the company amounting to just over £1,500, while Hogan Lovells is owed around £3,700.

Neither DLA Piper nor Hogan Lovells could comment on whether these debts related to Mipim.

Genesis owes £263,400 in total after going into voluntary liquidation on 3 February. The events part of the business was said to be doing well but its trade show and business travel arms were deemed unsustainable, dragging down the rest of the company.

Paul Bowie, Genesis managing director (and also its largest creditor, owed around £51,000) was reported as saying: “Our event arm was performing well but the business as a whole was held back by our struggling trade show and business travel arms. We were breaking even in 2011 but the decision was taken because the future looked unpromising.”

If Mipim is any kind of barometer for other business events, with lawyers reporting less exuberance and grandeur than in previous years, Bowie’s business forecast was sound.