The end for Shearings?

By | Category: Travel news

On Friday, a company I suspect few people have heard of – Specialist Leisure Group – called in administrators.

These are the affected companies

This company is better known by its brand names which include Shearings, Wallace Arnold, National Holidays, Caledonian Travel, Bay Hotels, Coast and Country Hotels and UK Breakaways..

The familiar turquoise coloured (they became a darker blue over the years) Shearings coaches beetling up and down our motorways were a common sight before lockdown. Very recognisable wherever they went they provided tours, primarily, of UK destinations wit holidaymakers being delivered in one of their almost 250 coaches.

Coming so soon after the demise of Thomas Cook, here is another long lived holiday company that has collapsed. Unfortunately, there will probably be more.

Expanding into hotels gave the 101 year old coach company somewhere where its passengers could stay and removed the need for them to book hotels. That gave the company a better opportunity to grow its revenue. I well remember a previous senior executive asking ne to keep my eyes open for 30-50 room hotels that had acreage which, at the time, was the type of hotels they were considering.

Subsequently the company decided to venture into river cruises, usually a profitable part of the travel business but coaches were still key.

Whilst SLG has gone into liquidation and not entirely due to the virus, other coach companies must be wondering whether there is a future for coaching holidays at least in the next few years.

Will people want to sit in a small confined tube with other passengers in close proximity? Will passengers accept such a lack of space in return for the benefits of being escorted from one place to another without having the inconvenience of driving themselves?

What investors are there to step in and buy all or part of this company? In the next week or so, the administrators will be talking to potential buyers. I have bemoaned the fact that our biggest tour operators have none or very little domestic holiday offerings. This could be their opportunity to grab a slice of the market but do they have confidence in the future of coach holidays? That will become apparent when we see how many bids the administrators receive.

It seems that there were over 60,000 advance booking for the Shearings part of the business and those people may not have been contacted yet. If you are affect ted and haven’t been then go to https://www.shearings.com/ or click here to check on how to reclaim monies owing to them.

At least the company had over £16 million lodged in bonds with bodies like the Bonded Coach Holiday Scheme so those affected stand a good chance of refunds.

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