Market Harborough-based Travelsphere has moved to reassure coach operators that it is “business as usual” after its sale to G Adventures, along with sister brand Just You.
Travelsphere, which contracts coach operators to run some of its UK holidays, was sold in a pre-pack deal by administrators shortly before its parent company, All Leisure Group (ALG) collapsed on 3 January.
The two Page & Moy brands had been up for sale for 10 months, it was revealed by ALG Chairman Roger Allard, 62.
ALG, whose main business is the cruise market, has been struggling for over a year. Mr Allard says civil unrest in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, where most of its cruises ran, affected bookings.
He says the position was exacerbated by the post-Brexit vote fall in the value of sterling, which had increased costs.
“In September 2016, we put the prices up for our tours (Travelsphere and Just You) which customers accepted, but we couldn’t do that for our cruise businesses. So much with cruise is paid for in foreign currency.”
Mr Allard says the asset and brand sales mean that unlike many other company failures, ALG has ceased trading with cash in the bank to pay creditors.
He says that the administrators have several assets to sell – including the freehold property in Market Harborough – Voyages of Discovery’s Voyager ship, and other assets including brand names and databases.
Last February, in a move to slash costs, the Market Harborough-based company made 40 redundancies, leaving 240 staff at its head office.
The ALG collapse affects its cruise lines Voyages of Discovery and Swan Hellenic, both of which cancelled new-year cruises, one of which was fully booked, at short notice over Christmas citing “operational reasons.”
The 400 passengers currently overseas will be repatriated by the CAA. ABTA says there are 7,000 forward cruise bookings (for 13,000 passengers), all of which are covered by the ATOL/ABTA schemes.
ALG’s other cruise brand, Hebridean Island Cruises, was sold to a consortium of trade buyers before Christmas.
Other assets, including tour operator Discover Egypt and Hebridean’s cruise ship Hebridean Princess, were sold in late 2015 and during 2016.
G Adventures was founded in 1990 by Bruce Poon Tip, who says: “We will be working hard to ensure that the loyal customers of Just You and Travelsphere continue to enjoy the award-winning tours that both brands organise, the future looks exceptionally bright and we look forward to expanding the range of tours for both Just You and Travelsphere.”
Mr Allard said he decided to pull the plug now, rather than letting the company limp on until the summer so the damage was limited. He said this meant that 200 jobs at the company’s Market Harborough head offices have been saved and that 20-30 jobs would be lost in the UK.
He adds that part of the deal to sell Travelsphere and Just You to G Adventures is to retain the Market Harborough head office for a year.
He says that most of the management team, including CEO Ian Smith and Group Sales Director Colin Wilson, transfer with the tours business to G Adventures.