50 jobs saved as travel company bought out of administration

A Leicestershire travel operator has been bought of administration, saving the holidays of hundreds of people.

Arena Travel called in administrators from Antony Batty & Company on September 23. The firm has, based in Market Harborough, has since been sold to the Leger Shearings Group.

All 50 jobs at the firm have been saved following the deal.

Arena Travel, which had been in business for over 45 years, was well known for its river cruise holiday and specialist niche escorted holidays, including rail and bridge holidays. Craft holidays are operated under the Stitchtopia brand and cultural and garden tours under the Boxwood and Art Pursuits brands. The company also has a music and events division with Elvis, Memphis and Germany Tours and operates unique events in partnership with the band Queen’s fan club.

Leger Shearings Group CEO Liam Race said: “I am very pleased that the Leger Shearings Group was able to acquire the Arena assets and importantly, protect jobs during these challenging times. We are offering all customers the ability to take the same holiday that they had booked with Arena Travel. “The companies share some similar products, including an excellent UK tours selection and river cruise holidays, but Arena’s very specialist holidays will add a new high-end dimension to our current portfolio.”

Arena Travel’s managing director Steve Goodenough, will remain in position, He said: “Arena Travel is long established and prior to the pandemic was very successful, but it came out of Covid battered and bruised. Our plan was to have a year of recovery, however, travel disruption hit every aspect of industry, from port delays, to flight and baggage disruption, to low water in Europe’s rivers and it took its toll and the business became untenable. I am delighted to be working with the Leger Shearing Group to rebuild the business, with the backing and security of a much larger company, which shares Arena Travel’s value of good quality service. I am especially pleased that the holidays our customers have booked will still take place, without interruption or financial penalty.”

Arena Travel ceased trading last Friday (September 23) after what its former chairman called a “relentless battle” to revive its fortunes, post-pandemic.

Declan Treanor said: “All of our clients’ monies are financially protected and we are pleased to have reached an outcome that enables our holidays to still take place and for the Arena brands to survive and prosper again under the new ownership of Leger Shearings Group.

“Having been established for over 40 years, and in the current ownership for 10 years, myself and fellow directors and shareholders are extremely proud of the company and our team’s achievements. Building our Bridge, Fan Events and Craft Holiday programmes to be leaders in their fields, our acquisition of the River Cruise and Rail Tours business in 2017, the operation of our Remembrance tours for Veterans culminating in the D-Day 75 Voyage to Normandy, and the pre-pandemic acquisitions of Art Pursuits and Boxwood Garden Tours to create our Cultural Tours division.

“As the Covid pandemic eased coming in to the New Year we were, as were many, optimistic that 2022 would see an enthusiastic return to travel. That however was not the case with a catalogue of challenges hitting our industry since the invasion of Ukraine, with port, airport and airline disruptions, to name but a few, affecting travellers’ willingness to travel and book holidays. More recently the withdrawal of one of our river cruise ships to home refugees along with the impact of low waters on sailings, has been the final straw for the company with large refunds claimed. I reiterate that all customers’ monies are protected through our ATOL for flight inclusive holidays, our Financial Failure Insurance for non-air holidays and in all cases for payments made by credit card.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all customers of Arena over the years and it has been our pleasure providing our holidays on which we have personally met many of you.”

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