TRAVELPLAN has ceased trading weeks after First Choice scuppered its franchise deal.

Last month First Choice pulled out of the deal. Travelplan claimed it was no longer viable as it planned expansion in areas First Choice already had shops.

Travelplan’s former consortium Worldchoice had threatened to shut it down over debts of £27,000 accumulated through a failure to pay suppliers. Travelplan eventually paid off the debts in an instalment deal with Worldchoice but a dispute remained over payment of membership fees.

Travelplan withdrew its ABTA membership on September 4 2006. ABTA will pay out on holidays booked while the firm was a member but could not give numbers of holidaymakers affected.

Meanwhile, First Choice franchisee Just Go is to open its 17th branch by January with Moreton, on the Wirral, favoured. The agency’s six-month notice period from Hays Travel ends in December when the chain rebrands as First Choice.

Founder Don Bircham said Just Go has first option on any shop premises First Choice identifies in the north Wales and the north west of England.

First Choice’s latest franchise Bowens Travel claims First Choice sales have hit a one-year high in the seven days since the deal.