Specialist Leisure Group (SLG), which operates Shearings Holidays, National Holidays, Caledonian Travel, UK Breakaways, Coast and Country Hotels, Bay Hotels, Country Living Hotels and Wallace Arnold Travel, has ceased trading with immediate effect.

Sam Woodward and Colin Dempster of EY’s restructuring team have been appointed as Joint Administrators of the business. All tours, holidays and hotel breaks booked with SLG have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled.

Says Mr Woodward: “The Group has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. 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 discussion 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. As a result, the Specialist Leisure Group was placed into administration.”

SLG operated around 240 coaches at the time it was placed into administration. 2,460 employees will be made redundant. 2,207 were subject to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at the time administrators were appointed. SLG’s website lists 44 hotels that were part of the group.

Around 70 employees will initially be retained to assist with the disposal of assets and winding down of the business.

Adds Mr Woodward: “We will be seeking to realise the remaining assets of the Group’s business for the benefit of creditors. We are therefore seeking offers from interested parties.”

SLG Chief Executive Richard Calvert says: “The effects of coronavirus COVID-19 on our 117-year-old company and the wider travel industry have been devastating. It is heart-breaking that the required funding or investment could not be found to get us through this unprecedented crisis in order to save SLG and our brands.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport has reacted with sadness to the owner of Shearings having ceased trading.

Says Chief Executive Graham Vidler: “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 step in and provide support to the wider coach tourism industry during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, which has been lacking to date.”

Customers that have booked coach package tours with Shearings are protected by the government-approved Bonded Coach Holidays consumer protection scheme, adds Mr Vidler.

The collapse of SLG follows the decision made in early May by David Urquhart Travel to wind up its coach tour business, although David Urquhart Sky Travel continues to operate as normal. Other smaller coach operators specialising in tours have also ceased trading since the onset of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis.