In a deal which will serve to strengthen its market position, Rotherham-based Leger Holidays has acquired the Shearings brand of its former competitor, and says it will soon be offering a new programme of fully escorted tours to the UK and Europe.
Leger Chief Executive Ian Henry told Travel Weekly: “We are sympathetic to what has happened prior to our ownership. Shearings is a heritage brand and an iconic name and a lot of people worked there for many years; the stalwarts of our sector of the industry really. We want to try and take good care of the brand and build it up for the future and hopefully in so doing, it may create some more jobs along the line.”
Ian explained that no staff have been taken on, but said that as the business builds, it could lead to a need for additional staff, including drivers, as well as extra vehicles.
“In the short-term,” he continued, “while we’re not operating tours, we don’t have a great need for operational staff, and we think we’ve got enough capacity within our own business for what we would see as the start point. But clearly as things develop, and if they develop to the potential that they could, then we will definitely need to recruit additional people.”
Ian added that Leger was particularly keen to develop Shearings’ UK tours portfolio and increase its UK tours market share, but the revived offering would not be identical to what went before, as Shearings owned a number of hotels which did not form part of the acquisition.
“We had already constructed a programme for the UK,” he said. “It’s not something that we only began on the demise of Shearings, but it probably accelerated it.” He said that the firm was predicting a rise in the number of staycations; domestic tours formed a large part of Shearings’ work. He added that in Europe, both Leger and Shearings will be offering similar destinations but offer different standards of coach, different levels of comfort, and at a different price point.
“Our plan is to start operating tours next year. If by some chance there is some sort of miraculous recovery of the travel industry in terms of the ability to travel unfettered in the short-term, then clearly we’d have a look at what we might be able to do in the late later parts of the autumn. But I think what we’re focused on his departures for next year, from about the middle of March onwards,” Ian said.