Hatts cease trading . . .
Hatts Travel Group of Chippenham, Wiltshire, ceased trading at 10.00 on 25 July 2014. with Andrew Martin Sheridan and Gareth Rutt Morris from FRP Advisory appointed joint administrators. According to the administrators, the Group had been struggling with unsustainable cash flow pressures for several months and attempts by its owners and directors to obtain investment to safeguard a long term future for the businesses as going concerns failed, leaving them with no alternative but to place the Group into administration. Hatts’ subsidiaries, Bodman Coaches, Hatts Coaches and Wiltshire Buses, have also ceased trading. The Group’s Hatts of Salisbury business, which runs the Park and Ride operation for Wiltshire County Council, continues to be operated by the administrators.
At short notice, Salisbury Reds, Beeline, Frome Minibuses, Stagecoach, AD Paines, Damory Coaches, Thamesdown and Leszan Travel have taken over routes operated on behalf of Wiltshire County Council.
Established in 1928, Hatts has been the ownership of the Hillier family for four generations. The Group’s principal trading business was Hatts Coaches, based in Foxham near Chippenham, with premises in Chippenham and Salisbury which employed around 108 staff to operate a fleet of around 90 PCVs. Coach tours, day trips and other bookings including Bath Rugby already made with Hatts Coaches have been cancelled. Bodmans Coaches employed 13 staff based at Worton near Devizes providing contract coach services to local schools including Dauntsey’s, the independent school, and some bus routes in and around Marlborough for Wiltshire County Council.
Partner at FRP Advisory and joint administrator, Andrew Sheridan, said, ‘The businesses simply ran out of cash. We are acutely aware of the distress and hardship many holidaymakers and day trippers will be suffering right now particularly as so many of these are of an “older generation”. Our priority right now is to contact and provide dedicated helpline support for those members of the general public who have paid for holidays, day trips and other private hire with Hatts. We will ensure that they are advised of their statutory rights under the Consumer Credit Act where, in the first instance, if they have paid by credit or debit card they should make contact with their card providers. At the same time we will be ensuring that the 89 employees who have lost their jobs are provided with the necessary support to make timely claims from the Redundancy Payments Service for any entitlements they have for unpaid wages, holiday pay, notice pay and redundancy.’
. . . and Bakers Dolphin offers customers lifeline
West Country coach holiday specialist, Bakers Dolphin, has ‘thrown a lifeline’ to holidaymakers affected by the collapse of Hatts Coaches. Around 1,000 people are believed to have made bookings with Hatts and may have lost their money and their holiday. Bakers Dolphin is offering 50% off their holidays to anyone who can show they lost out with Hatts going into administration.
Sales and Marketing Director, Amanda Harrington, said, ‘We are members of the Bonded Coach Holidays and have protection in place so that customers are never at risk. When this sort of thing happens it undermines the industry’s good reputation. We have been in touch with the FRP Advisory, the administrators of Hatts Coaches, to offer whatever help we can as we pick up throughout Wiltshire and offer similar holidays. Our sympathy is with the customers, who have paid and are looking forward to their holidays and to the staff, who must be devastated.’