Bales Worldwide was officially wound up just months before the death of former chairman and co-founder Molly Bales, it has emerged.
The long-haul specialist was sold in 2009 by Molly’s daughter Mandy Nickerson to Virgin Holidays, which retained all Bales’ staff and kept its headquarters in Dorking, Surrey.
But Companies House documents show that in September last year Virgin passed a resolution to offically wind up Bales, which was set up in 1947. It had stopped promoting the brand in 2012.
Nickerson, who left Virgin in 2012, said: “I have no regrets about selling, or about the Bales name not being around. I could see the writing on the wall. They used our expertise, but Virgin was always going to be the bigger brand.
“In many ways the sale was perfect timing. Just after we sold there was the Arab Spring. If we had been on our own we may not have survived, so we were lucky.”
About five former Bales staff remain at Virgin.
Molly died in December at the age of 89 and many ex-staff and senior members of the industry attended her funeral last week.
Abta chairman Noel Josephides paid tribute to her.
He said: “Whenever you met Molly she was always calm and measured, and you sensed there was bags of experience and that she’d seen it all.
“Bales Worldwide represented something you rarely find in travel now: a sizeable company that was personally run. It’s a sign of the passing of the golden age of travel.”
Former Bales tour guide Beryl Griffiths said: “She gave opportunities for people like me to see the world. She was very thoughtful and caring.”
Molly continued to speak at industry events into her 80s, including the ITT Odyssey Dinner at the House of Commons in 2010.
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