The boss of failed agency Monster Travel has said claims that it was selling holidays for less than it bought them for were “patently untrue” and not to blame for the collapse of his company.

Reacting to claims in a succession of comments on that the agency was selling for under net rates, managing director David Hawke claimed the company’s average margin was 10%.

He added: “Was our marketing strategy aggressive? Yes. But was it as aggressive as others? No way.

“Our business depended on Teletext and so we always played by its rules. If we hadn’t, its compliance team would have kicked us off.”

Newcastle-based Monster failed on July 15 leaving 94 members of staff jobless with many claiming they were owed “thousands” in pay and commission.

Hawke blamed the volcanic ash cloud in April for the demise, saying debts of about £800,000 in the year ending February 28,2009, had been decreasing ever since.

“In 2009 we made a much smaller loss and this year, we were on track to break even. We were trading well until the volcano erupted,” Hawke said.

He also denied he had any other travel interests, despite the creation of Cheap Holidays Company, which was registered on May 24 with partner and Monster
co-director Julie Gilmore as its sole director

Hawke said the company was set up to protect the brand and trademark of a website testing new dynamic packaging technology.

Observers said the timing of the Monster failure at a time of year when travel firms are usually flush with cash was not significant. As a franchisee using the Freedom Travel Group’s Atol, Abta membership and merchant services, it would not have been relying on cash flow to survive, they said.