The group that owned coach holiday operators Caledonian Holidays, National Holidays and Shearings Holidays entered into administration on Friday 22 May.
Prior to the news that the group had gone into administration, Shearings posted a COVID-19 update on its website on Wednesday 20 May, announcing that no new bookings will be taken until further notice.
The company explained it had made the decision as a consequence of the ‘significant impact of COVID-19 on the company and the uncertainty around government imposed travel restrictions and deliverability.’
By the afternoon of Friday 22 May a further update had been posted with the unfortunate news that the whole group had entered into administration. The statement on the groups website reads: ‘All tours, cruises, holidays and hotel breaks booked with the Specialist Leisure Group have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. The Specialist Leisure Group operated several businesses that sold holidays and other travel arrangements under the following brand names, which have all ceased to trade, due to the impact of COVID-19.’
The coach division operated 240 coaches, with an allocation that was roughly split 50/50 split between Shearings and National Holidays. A further 25 coaches operated in Caledonian Travel livery, some being operated by independent operators.
Joint Administrator, Sam Woodward, commented: “The Group has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as all tours, trips and events have been cancelled and the hotels closed to the public, leading to a significant cash shortfall.
“The directors of the Group have been in discussions with a number of parties, seeking a going concern buyer for the business. Unfortunately, despite interest in the Group as a whole and in parts, no viable transaction structure was able to be agreed and, as a result, the Group was placed into Administration”
“Regrettably, the jobs of 2,460 employees, 2,207 of which were furloughed at the time of appointment, will now have to be made redundant. Approximately 70 employees will initially be retained to assist the Administrators in disposing of the assets and winding down the business.
Sam Woodward added: “Our immediate priority is to advise and support those employees and customers that have been impacted by the Group’s insolvency. We are making every effort to contact all customers, who have had their bookings cancelled as a result of the Administrations or COVID-19, with information to assist them in making a claim. Customers should be assured that claims do not need to be submitted immediately and refunds will continue to be accepted for up to six months.
“We will also be seeking to realise the remaining assets of the Group’s business for the benefit of creditors and we are therefore seeking offers from interested parties.”
The Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Chief Executive Graham Vidler reacted by saying: “This is a sad day for all those involved with Shearings and the wider coach tourism industry, our immediate thoughts are with those employees who now face an uncertain future. Today’s events show the need for the Government to urgently step in and provide support to the wider coach tourism industry, during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been lacking to date.
“Customers who have booked coach package tours with Shearings are protected by the Government-approved consumer protection scheme Bonded Coach Holidays (BCH). They will be contacted by the administrator who will inform them of how to make a claim.
“All coach operators providing coach package tours must have full consumer protection in place to comply with The Package Travel and Linked Travel Regulations 2018, which means that customers can have confidence that their money is safe.”
Employees of the group are being contacted separately by the administrators. The administrators will also be contacting all known creditors of the Specialist Leisure Group in due course.
Companies that were suppliers to the Specialist Leisure Group, and require further details in relation to the administration, can direct enquiries to the administrators’ office by email: [email protected]
Samuel J Woodward and Colin P Dempster are the appointed Joint administrators. The appointment was made by the directors of the Companies under the provisions of paragraph 22(2) of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986. Further information can be found here: www.ey.com/en_uk/ey-slg-administration