THE Trump brand is out-of-step with Scotland and its loss-making Scots resorts need a new owner to turn a profit, an international business expert has told the Sunday National.

Donald Trump first built his Trump International Golf Links at Menie in Aberdeenshire before taking over historic Turnberry, South Ayrshire, in 2014. But neither resort has been a money-spinner for the tycoon, with the Menie business running up cumulative losses of more than £9.4 million and Turnberry losing almost £43m.

The losses mean the Republican Party figurehead has paid no corporation tax in the UK since setting up shop here. There are deferred tax assets of £9.1m and £1.8m in place for Turnberry and Menie respectively and the former owes the tycoon an eyewatering £115m over an interest-free loan he provided to the business. Another, worth £40.6m, was set up for Menie.

That was before the pandemic hit the tourism, leisure and wedding markets that golf resorts rely on. Now, after a days-long political firestorm in America over the election outcome, a Scottish business expert has told the Sunday National that Trump’s interests here have little hope of making money under his ownership.

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Dr Elaine Ritch of Glasgow Caledonian University, a specialist in international marketing, says The Apprentice star has failed to understand the Scottish landscape and the baggage attached to the New York businessman is sinking his operations.

She told The National: “The Trump brand isn’t so popular in Scotland. I don’t think it fits with the Scottish ideology. Throwing money around and weight around is unattractive.”

She went on: “I don’t think Trump brings anything to the properties. I don’t think his name attached to them does them any favours.

“What the Trump brand stands for, I don’t think fits with a progressive or socialist mindset like you see in Scotland. There’s no recognition for local community or environment.

“The Aberdeenshire resort hasn’t brought wealth to the local economy and other jobs in the way he said it would. That has been tarnished in the Scottish mindset.

“New ownership would absolutely help.”

Trump pledged to create 6000 jobs and invest £1 billion in his Aberdeenshire resort, which was rubber-stamped after a fierce and very public planning battle. It opened in 2012 and employed around 650 temporary and permanent staff in 2018, when it reported losses of £1.07m for that year. A second course has just been approved there and there are plans to create 550 houses on the site.

There were also plans to develop residences at Turnberry, but councillors there refused as the preferred land is zoned for agriculture – something South Ayrshire Council leader Peter Henderson says will not change. The local plan is currently before Scottish ministers for approval, but there’s nothing in that which would allow a change of use of the prime farmland.

Henderson, who lives “next door” to Turnberry in Maidens, told the Sunday National he’s been inundated with calls from US and UK media in recent weeks. He said: “They’re all looking to dig up dirt and get a story. I keep saying to them, ‘what can I tell you, Mr Trump is not technically involved in Turnberry, his son runs it all’. Other councillors have had the same enquiries.”

Henderson won’t be drawn on the famous operation, apart from saying that it “creates private employment and investment in the community". But a council source said the jobs are “the positive side, there’s also the negative side with the adverse publicity”. The source said: “He’s losing millions, but before him the owners lost money too. There’s been millions spent and it needed spent. Bits of it were falling apart, practically. The work has been advantageous for local tradesmen and suppliers.”

Ritch says that unlike US brands such as McDonald's and Pizza Hut, which alter their offering in accordance with local tastes, the Trump Organisation – which was contacted for this article – has failed to adapt to its Scottish surroundings: “He’s taken a one-size-fits-all approach.

“The hospitality industry has taken a big hit and there’s more of a focus on supporting local businesses instead of global businesses. I don’t think his name attached to it does it any favours. It’s like a number of brands accused of unsavoury exploitation. You have Nestle, which has come in for some criticism, but Nestle makes other brands and within that, you don’t necessarily know you’re eating a Nestle product. Trump would be wise to adopt something similar.”