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Shearings owner enters administration

22 May 2020 by
Shearings owner enters administration

Shearings owner Specialist Leisure Group has fallen into administration after failing to secure a rescue deal. All of the group's hotels trading as Bay Hotels, Coast & Country Hotels and Country Living Hotels will not reopen.

As well as the 117-year-old Shearings coach holiday brand, Specialist Leisure Group owned and operated two Country Living-branded hotels, the Lansdown Grove in Bath and St George in Harrogate, as well as 11 Coast & Country hotels and 31 under Bay Hotels.

A statement from the company said: "The Specialist Leisure Group entered administration on 22 May 2020.

"All tours, cruises, holidays and hotel breaks booked with the Specialist Leisure Group have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled."

Chief executive Richard Calvert said: "This is a terribly sad day for employees, customers and commercial partners of the Specialist Leisure Group (SLG) and its subsidiaries which have entered into administration.

"The effects of Covid-19 on our 117-year old company and the wider travel industry have been devastating.

"In the most trying of circumstances, over these past few months, we have fought tooth and nail to save the group and the jobs of our 2,400 loyal employees serving over 1.1m customers annually.

"It is heart-breaking that the required funding or investment could not be secured to get us through this unprecedented crisis in order to save SLG to and our amazing travel brands."

Sam Woodward and Colin Dempster of EY's restructuring team were appointed joint administrators of the Specialist Leisure Group on Friday (22 May).

Woodward said: "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."

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.

Woodward added: "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."

SLG confirmed last month that it was in discussions with stakeholders, advisors and the government "to weather the storm of Covid-19".

Reports at the time said most of Shearings' employees were furloughed and 2,600 jobs would be at risk should the company fall into administration.

Shearings Holidays was the UK's largest escorted tour operator and traced its roots to 1903 when Smiths Happiways was established in Wigan.

Main stakeholder Lone Star Funds took control of Shearings in 2016, and the company rebranded as Specialist Leisure Group in 2018.

By Travel Weekly reporters

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