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Published on Thursday, August 1, 2019

Super Break, LateRooms parent collapses

Malvern Group, the parent of Super Break and has ceased trading.

In a statement, it said it had been starved of funding due to the financial problems of one of its shareholders, Cox and Kings in India.

Only last month, Malvern issued a statement claiming it was unaffected by Cox and Kings' financial trouble, but it later revealed it was trying to secure extra funding while seeking a buyer for the UK-based business.

However, it said today that it has run out of time.

In a statment, it said: "Following news of Cox and 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, Superbreak Mini-Holidays Ltd (t/a 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, whilst 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. "

Late Rooms is a hotel-booking platform while Manchester and York-based Super Break is a long-established, ATOL-registered short breaks operator.

ABTA said Super Break 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," it said.

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 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, Malvern executive chairman, 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."

The company continues to invite bids for the business and its assets. The appointment of an administrator is expected tomorrow

Cox and Kings India is also the parent company of Cox & Kings in the UK. It said last month that it was 'business as usual' despite the problems in India.

In a statement today, Cox & Kings' UK travel business said:" Following the sad news that The Malvern Group, including the brands and Super Break, has ceased trading, Cox & Kings Travel Ltd (UK) would like to clarify that The 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."

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