The boss of All Leisure Group has denied claims that he and other directors milked the company before its collapse this week.
Company chairman Roger Allard defended the scale of directors remuneration in the two years leading to the appointment of Grant Thornton as administrators and said that the sale of the ship Hebridean Princess and its cruise operation was “no cosy deal”.
All Leisure sold Hebridean Princess at the end of November 2015 in a £3 million sale-and-leaseback deal to a syndicate led by himself and two other directors.
Another group of investors led by Allard acquired Hebridean Island Cruises around a month ago, before the collapse of All Leisure and its other cruise brands Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery this week.
Allard told The Times that the sale of the Hebridean Island Cruises brand had been “properly conducted at arm’s length and there was no cosy deal”.
He added: “It wasn’t us trying to sell the business, it was Grant Thornton.”
All Leisure Group accounts for the year to October 2015 show that £920,000 was paid to seven directors that financial year, despite making a pre-tax profit of £200,000 on turnover down 8.4% to £127.3 million.
Allard, who was paid £301,000, said that salaries were at a similar level last year, for which accounts have yet to be filed.
He disputed any suggestion that the board had milked the company.
“The last time the company paid a dividend five years ago, the board all waived their dividend payments,” he said.
As previously reported by Travel Weekly, Allard said that he was “very sad” for the customers who had lost their holidays and creditors who had lost money as a result of the administration, but that the board had minimised the impact by acting during the seasonal low point.
The sale of assets would provide cash for creditors while customers were covered by Atol and Abta schemes, he said. He blamed some of the company’s woes on the Arab Spring.
“Some of the key destinations for our cultural cruises were the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Black Sea, many of which are now effectively off limits,” he said.
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