Shearings back in the black

COACH tour holiday specialist Shearings Group is back in profit thanks to strong demand for its UK holidays, together with margin improvements and operating cost reductions.

It made a pre-tax profit of £5m compared to a loss of £900,000 last year and in the 12 months to December 2015, carried 1.1m passengers, up 2% on the previous year.

It also increased revenues to £201m (2014: £200m) – a record in the group’s 100-year history.

Profits (EBITDA) increased 30%  to £9.1m (2014: £7.0m) and it had positive cash of £1.4m at the end of 2015 compared to net debt of £4.5m at the end of 2014.

The Wigan-based group confirmed that it has been bought from its management team by US investment firm Lone Star Funds, which was previously a minority investor.

The transaction, which will bring the property and operating companies together under common ownership and management control, will create greater flexibility in the group’s operating model.

This change to the ownership structure sees former Travelodge chief executive and chairman Grant Hearn, already a non-executive director, take over as chairman.

Hearn has NED roles already at retailer Poundland and Scandic Hotels as well as being chairman of another Lone Star owned business, Amaris Hospitality.

The group has also completed the acquisition of specialist holiday operator Equalmatch, which operates the Travelstyle and UK Breakaways brands.

Shearings said the acquisition would complement its fast-growing National Holidays business by expanding its regional presence in the UK.

Denis Wormwell, chief executive of Shearings Leisure Group, said: “This was another landmarkyear for the group, with a fourth successive year of improved financial results, continued investment in the business, new ownership and our first business acquisition since 2005.

“With the backing of a long-term investment partner, our best ever line up of holidays and hotels, a well-invested estate and fleet and the loyalty of our fast-expanding over-50s audience, we’re in the ideal position to continue growing our presence and position as the leading escorted tours operator.”