Shearings owner ‘starts administration process’ in race to find rescue deal

The owner of coach holiday and hotels specialist Shearings has filed a Notice of Intention (NOI) to appoint administrators to a number of subsidiaries, including Shearings and UKBreakaways.com, according to reports.

Wigan-based Shearings, which was founded in Oldham in 1919 by Herbert Shearing, is already in talks to identify financial support for the firm, which employs around 2,600 staff. Most have already been furloughed.

Sky News is reporting that accountancy firm EY has been put on standby to handle the insolvency process, which would give 10 days’ breathing space to find new backers.

Parent company Specialist Leisure Group (SLG), owned by Texas-based private equity firm Lone Star Funds, said last week: “The travel industry has been severely affected by the impact of COVID-19 and the inability to operate any holidays on government instruction.

“Specialist Leisure Group is actively in dialogue with its stakeholders, advisors and the Government regarding its options, which include the sourcing of the necessary financial support to enable the company to weather the storm of COVID-19.”

However, it is understood that some divisions, and the parent company, are not subject to the NOI to appoint administrators.

SLG and Lone Star are believed to have been working with business adviser PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in a bid to secure a buyer to avoid falling into administration.

Shearings serves more than 170 destinations in the UK, Europe and further afield.

Its holiday offers range from coach and self-drive breaks to air travel and cruises.

The business also owns the Bay Hotels chain, UKBreakaways.com, which operates self-driving tours, and Sportingbreaks.com, a hub for organised trips to events such as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and Wimbledon.

Lone Star acquired the group, through a wider portfolio of assets, in 2015. It has declined to comment.

Just over a year ago, last March, reports claimed the group’s owner was considering a sale for the business.

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