Published on Thursday, January 17, 2013

Advantage fights to save collapsed travel agency chain

Advantage is trying to salvage a collapsed travel agency chain which ceased trading earlier this week due to cash-flow problems.

Oxfordshire-based Ambassador Travel, an Advantage member, had six stores stretching across the south of England and employed 25 staff.

One branch, at Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire, will remain open for the next couple of weeks to manage existing bookings. Two or three staff had been retained, said Advantage.

"The business has failed but the plan is for at least one outlet at Lee-on-Solent to continue to trade over the next couple of weeks and all existing bookings will be processed by that branch," said Advantage sales and marketing director Colin O'Neill.

"All existing bookings will be honoured and all tour operators' pipeline money will be paid."

O'Neill said Ambassador, which had an annual turnover of £6.5m, had "hundreds of thousands of pounds" of advanced bookings.

He said Advantage was talking to Ambassador's management to see if any part of the business could be salvaged. It is possible, he said, that at least one of the shops could join Advantage's in-house Managed Services scheme.

The company was founded in 2008 by Wayne Evans, but in the last couple of years he had been on an aggressive acquisition trail, buying up shops in various locations across southern England. It has branches in Aylesbury, Wells, Wantage, Gillingham and Cheam as well as Lee.

It also owned a small tour operation, trading under the names Secret Seychelles and Secret South Africa, but Advantage said it had no forward bookings.

"Ultimately the business has failed because of cash-flow," added O'Neill, "but we don't want to give up on it. It is far from certain if we can save any part of it, but we are looking at what we can do."


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