The owner of the Shearings coach holiday operator fell into administration, with 2,460 immediate job losses and thousands of holiday cancellations.
Specialist Leisure Group (SLG), which also owns brands including UKBreakaways.com, Wallace Arnold Travel and hotel chains Bay Hotels, Coast & Country and Country Living, said that all tours, cruises, vacations and hotel breaks in the UK and abroad have been canceled and will not be rescheduled. The company stopped accepting reservations on Thursday.
The insolvency specialists of the accounting firm EY were appointed directors of SLG after efforts to find a buyer for the company’s 44 hotels and travel brands failed.
EY said that “the vast majority of customers” should have had financial protection through insurance schemes such as Atol or the Bonded Coach Holidays Scheme or through their credit or debit card issuers. The administrators said they will try to contact all customers with canceled reservations, with refund requests that can be sent for another six months.
The Wigan-based company has focused on tours, events and river cruises for the 1950s. More than 2,200 SLG employees had been laid off as the company tried to cope with all of its reservations canceled during the coronavirus block.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the furlough regime this month, whereby the government pays 80% of workers’ wages until October, but travel companies have moved to layoffs, given the likelihood of a slow recovery for tourism due to travel restrictions. Lost revenue is unlikely to be recovered by customers who take extra vacations at a later date.
Other travel companies have already drawn up plans for thousands of layoffs, including a number of airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair.
Tour operator Tui cut 8,000 jobs, citing “arguably the biggest crisis industry and Tui have ever faced.”
Hays Travel, which rescued 555 Thomas Cook stores from the administration last year, put essential staff at half-wages, while others had their hours cut short, including 880 who hired zero-hour contracts.
PwC worked with SLG and shareholder Lone Star, a private equity investor, to find a buyer.
Sam Woodward, one of the directors of EY, said: “The group has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic since all tours, trips and events have been canceled and hotels closed to the public, causing a significant deficit of liquid assets.
“The group directors discussed with a number of parties, looking for a buyer interested in the company. Unfortunately, despite the interest in the group as a whole and in part, no valid transaction structures were able to be agreed upon and, consequently, the group was placed in administration. “
About 70 employees will remain to liquidate the company.