Super Break and LateRooms.com have ceased trading after parent Malvern Group was unable to find a buyer for the 49% of the business owned by Cox & Kings (India).
The business placed itself up for sale last week after the historic Indian tour operator defaulted on its Iata billing and settlement plan (BSP) in June.
Malvern drafted in KPMG to oversee a sale but the company confirmed on Thursday (1 August) it had been unable to find a buyer or secure support from the banking sector.
The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed to TTG Super Break had 254 passengers overseas across 113 Atol-protected bookings when it ceased trading, with a further 7,300 passengers due to travel on 3,100 Atol-protected forward bookings.
According to Abta, around 400 Super Break passengers were on holiday with the business, either overseas in the UK, when the company ceased trading and should be able to continue with their holiday as booked.
A further 53,000 passengers across 20,000 forward bookings, the majority of whom are yet to travel, should be able to obtain a refund either through Abta or another financial protection scheme depending on the type of booking.
In a statement, Malvern said the situation had “deteriorated rapidly” following news of Cox & Kings’ default, “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,” said the spokesperson.
“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 (trading as LateRooms.com), Superbreak Mini-Holidays Ltd (trading as Super Break) and Malvern Travel Technology Limited 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 the business could not continue.”
Hugo Kimber, Malvern Group executive chairman, added: “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 heartbreaking.”
The company will continue to invite bids for the business and its assets.
An administrator is expected to be appointed on Friday (2 August).
Cox & Kings (UK) operates under its own Iata licence and sought to distance itself from its Indian counterpart’s troubles earlier this month.
In a statement, Cox & Kings (UK) said: “Following the sad news that Malvern Group, including the brands LateRooms.com and Super Break, has ceased trading, Cox & Kings Travel Ltd (UK) would like to clarify that Malvern Group is minority owned by Cox & Kings Ltd (India), which is a separate business to Cox & Kings Travel Ltd (UK).
“Therefore, the operations of Cox & Kings Travel Ltd (UK) are not affected by this news.”
According to Abta, Super Break, which is based in Manchester and York, employed around 250 people when it ceased trading.
“Abta’s immediate aim is to help customers navigate through the process of either continuing with their holiday arrangements if they are away, or, for those yet to travel, recovering their money or rebooking their travel arrangements,” said the association.
Abta has set up a dedicated Super Break micro-site with more information for those affected by the Malvern insolvency.
A CAA spokesperson said: “We understand this will be concerning news for anyone who has booked to travel with the company.
“However, the Atol scheme exists for exactly this kind of situation and we are making immediate arrangements so all Atol-protected customers may make a claim for their Atol-protected package via the Atol scheme.”