Shearings: 38 new Setras for 2014

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Optimism as Group reports bookings for 2014 currently over 10% ahead of the same time last year

Shearings has announced it is continuing to invest significantly in its coach fleet and hotel portfolio on the back of further growth in customer volumes and forward bookings.

The Wigan-based Group – which focuses on the rapidly-expanding over 50s market – said it would take delivery of 38 new Setra coaches early in the new year with an order value of £10.5m. Of these, 15 are tri-axle S416GT-HD models for the blue-liveried Shearings Holidays fleet and 23 are two-axle S415GT-HDs for National Holidays.

The deal, which follows on from the delivery of 30 new Setras and a major lease ????inancing agreement secured earlier this year, takes its fleet to 240 coaches, of which 200 are less than four years old.

The Group, which also operates 50 hotels under the Bay and Coast & Country brands, said it planned to accelerate its investment in room and facilities upgrades across the hotel portfolio to £5m during 2014. This follows £3.6m of investment in the current year, during which time occupancy levels have reached over 90% – the highest since 2008.

Following a record one million passengers last year, Shearings said it expected customer volumes to increase by a further 2-3% in the current year. It also reported 2014 bookings were currently over 10% ahead of the same time last year.

Sales of UK and European Grand Tourer breaks from its Shearings Holidays brand were said to have played a major part in the growth story, while the strong British summer drove positive sales for its UK-focused value brand, National Holidays. New products in 2014 include additions to its premium Grand Tourer programme such as escorted tours of the Spanish gardens, Ireland’s country houses and the history of south-east Italy, while new river cruises include trips along the Danube and to Europe’s battlefields. It also said that its trips to Highclere Castle – the setting of Downton Abbey which has just returned to TV screens – were proving popular.

Denis Wormwell, Chief Executive of Shearings Group, said: “Our continuing focus on providing great value and exciting new holiday product across our programmes has kept our customers loyal and attracted thousands of new people to our portfolio of brands. Similarly our multi-brand strategy, and ability to serve the UK and overseas markets with short and long breaks with such a wide range of product, gives us an even bigger market to address across a demographic that continues to expand.

“While conditions remain challenging, this has given us the confidence to continue our investment through 2013 and accelerate our commitment further next year, making sure we deliver ever greater quality to our growing customer base.”

In a separate development, Shearings was crowned Domestic Travel Supplier of the Year at the TTG Travel Awards earlier this year and won gold at the recent British Travel Awards for ‘Best Large Coach Holiday Company’. Its Coast & Country hotel brand was also awarded bronze in the Best UK Mid-scale Hotel Group category.