Many Gill’s Cruise Centre staff heard the harsh news of their redundancy yesterday after the company ceased trading last week.
Just two out of the 30-strong workforce in London expect to keep their jobs, although Travel Weekly understands all but 15 of the staff in Cardiff could be retained by Stevenage-based group P&P Associates which purchased Gill’s assets on Friday.
The assets are believed to comprise primarily the cruise retailer’s database and the website, although not the URL or the company’s branding and name.
However, all holidays are safe – as reported last week – and cruise lines have already contacted customers to reassure them. It is believed the failure could cost the cruise companies in the region of £10 million.
Gill’s employed 90 staff after closing an office in London and restructuring in March. Travel Weekly has been told some staff had been asked to sign new contracts.
It is understood there were rival bids to that of P&P Associates, which established a new WeCruise brand on Friday. Other brands in P&P Associates’ leisure portfolio, WeFly and WeHoliday, are purely online retailers.
Full details of the failure have yet to emerge, but it now appears the company went into administration on Friday just ahead of the sale of assets, after ceasing trading last Thursday. It had earlier been suggested the sale took place to avoid going into administration.
Former Gill’s staff described a meeting at the company’s Edgware Road office in London yesterday as “like a funeral”. The bad news was delivered to staff by Aiden Treacy, one of Gill’s two directors who was appointed on June 13 following the departures of Steve Philipou and Mervyn Harris.
Sonja Harris, a former performance manager at Gill’s, said: “There were a lot of tears and anger and frustration. It was like a big family gathering at a funeral – really heartbreaking.”
She said financial director Aidan Treacy told staff the agency had failed because of “bad decisions”, and that staff were told they can try and claim for their final salary on National Insurance.
Travel Weekly has as yet been unable to learn the identity of the administrator or contact Gill’s former chairman Alastair Gill or get any further details P&P Associates.