Malvern Group, the UK parent of SuperBreak and LateRooms.com, has ceased trading. The company continues to invite bids for the business and its assets, while the appointment of an administrator is expected today, Friday 2nd August.
The company said that it had been starved of funding due to the financial problems of one of its shareholders, Cox & Kings Ltd (India) – which is a separate business to Cox & Kings Travel Ltd (UK), which is not affected by this development.
Last month, Malvern issued a statement claiming that it was unaffected by Cox & Kings Ltd (India)’ s financial trouble, but it later revealed that it was trying to secure extra funding while seeking a buyer for the UK-based business. However, yesterday it said: “Following news of Cox & Kings India’s loan default a month ago, the situation has deteriorated rapidly resulting in the withdrawal of any further funding for Malvern Group. The management team recently appointed advisors from KPMG to undertake an accelerated sales process to ensure further investment, and have engaged with our principal bankers to secure interim funding.
“Unfortunately, given the short timeframe enabled by our cash position and despite interest from potential purchasers, we have been unable to secure bank support or a sale of the business. As a result, Late Rooms Ltd (t/a LateRooms.com), Superbreak Mini-Holidays Ltd (t/a SuperBreak) and Malvern Travel Technology Ltd are unable to continue on a solvent basis and have ceased trading.
“The senior team at Malvern Group have worked tirelessly to look at all available options to protect our employees, customers, trade partners and suppliers, while simultaneously working with regulatory bodies such as ABTA and the CAA to ensure minimum disruption to our customers in the event that the business could not continue.”
ABTA said SuperBreak had around 20,000 outstanding bookings, affecting around 53,000 passengers. It said the majority of customers have yet to travel, with around 400 people abroad at the moment.
The CAA said customers already abroad with e-tickets would be able to return home on their booked flights. The CAA said it is talking to service providers to see if they will guarantee services already booked, but it warned that customers might have to pay again and claim a refund from the company’s ATOL later.
There is a helpline for any consumers’ currently overseas and experiencing difficulties. The telephone number is 0333 103 6350, but costs cannot be refunded for calling the helpline.
If you are a travel agent of SuperBreak and you are currently holding consumer payments which you have not yet paid the operator, the CAA is advising you not to refund consumers with these funds until you have received instructions from the Air Travel Trust. Travel agents will be individually contacted by the CAA with specific instructions for these bookings.
Travel agents or ATOL holders considering providing alternative holidays to SuperBreak customers and and wish consumers to assign their claim to them, are being advised to email [email protected] and await instructions.
Clients with non-ATOL protected bookings are being advised to contact ABTA.
ABTA issued a statement saying that customers on ABTA-protected packages should be able to continue their trips, but they are advised to contact the association if they have any problems.
Customers who have yet to travel are being directed to abta.com/superbreak for specific guidance on next steps and how to progress a claim through ABTA, ATOL, their card provider or through another type of financial protection scheme.
Hugo Kimber, Executive Chairman, Malvern, said: “This is a devastating blow for all of our wonderful employees who have invested so much time and effort into building Malvern, its brands and trips technology platform. This is equally difficult for all our suppliers, partners and customers who will be impacted by this news. To be so close to delivering our goal of an integrated, dynamic and commercially successful business, that could provide significant value through its innovative products, is heart-breaking.”