Abta has issued advice to customers following Friday’s collapse of Shearings parent Specialist Leisure Group saying the vast majority of bookings are financially protected.

In an update posted on the trade association’s website, customers were provided information about each of the brands operated by Specialist Leisure Group.

The firm entered into administration on Friday after failing to secure a rescue deal with 64,000 forward bookings the majority of which were coach package holidays.

Abta said: Following this announcement [about the collapse of Specialist Leisure Group], customers may understandably be very worried.

“Our immediate aim is to help customers to understand what steps they need to take if they have future travel arrangements booked with the company.”

The association added the “vast majority” of customers arrangements are covered through different types of financial protection.

Holidays booked with third party operators through high street agency Wallace Arnold Travel should be unaffected, Abta said.

Customers were advised to follow any instructions provided by Wallace Arnold for bookings where it was the travel organiser.

Abta said the majority of coach package bookings are financially protected by the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s bonding scheme or by customers’ credit or debit card issuer.

And any flight inclusive package holidays are protected under the Atol scheme administered by the CAA, said Abta.

Specialist Leisure Group operated the following brands: Shearings Holidays; Wallace Arnold Travel; National Holidays trading as Caledonian Travel and Travel Style; UK Breakaways, and Shearings Hotels trading as Bay Hotels and Coach and Country Hotels.

Shearings Holidays and Wallace Arnold Travel were Abta members and National Holidays and  Breakaways were members of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT).

Shearings Hotels and its brands were not members of Abta or CPT and accommodation-only holiday bookings are not financially protected.

Abta said: “We have been advised by the administrators that the process for making a claim will open at 9am on Tuesday May 26.”


Shearings: A brief history

1919: Shearings is founded in Oldham in 1919 by Herbert Shearing, although the roots of the business can be traced back to a haulage company called Webster Bros, founded in 1903, and a coach tours operation set up by James Smith in 1914 that offered trips from Wigan and Southport

1949: Herbert Shearing retires and two companies are formed: Shearings Tours (Manchester) Ltd and Shearings Tours (Oldham) Ltd. These are sold to James Robinson, owner of Happiway Tours, in 1953

1963: Shearings Tours are consolidated as Shearings Holidays

1964: The business is sold again and the coaches branded as Shearings-Pleasureways-Ribblesdale, shortened to Shearings Ribblesdale in 1979 and then to Shearings Holidays in 1982

1989: Mecca Leisure Group purchases Pleasurama and merges National Holidays with Shearings

1990: Mecca is taken over by The Rank Organisation, which sells Shearings Holidays to a management buyout in 1996, backed by Bridgepoint Capital

2005: Venture capital firm 3i, which owns travel agency Wallace Arnold, purchases a controlling stake in Shearings

2013: Shearings’ passenger numbers grow to a then-record 1.05 million, with sales of £195m and a profit before tax of £5.8m

2014: 3i and Indigo Capital sell the business for an undisclosed figure to a management team led by chief executive Denis Wormwell

2016: US investment company Lone Star Funds buys Shearings for an undisclosed sum

2017: Richard Calvert is appointed chief executive;
Shearings reports fourth successive year of record sales, profits and passenger numbers; Jane Atkins is appointed managing director of Shearings Holidays;
commercial director Caroline Brown leaves after 20 years with the business

2018: Shearings Leisure Group, the holding company for Shearings Holidays, Coast & Country Hotels, National Holidays and other brands, renames as Specialist Leisure Group

May 2020: Specialist Leisure Group goes into administration

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