A travel agent has urged the trade to consider a crowd-funding appeal to help resurrect the Shearings brand.

Bailey’s Travel owner Chris Bailey said he hoped senior management might consider a buy-out to save the 1117-year-old coach holiday firm, whose parent company Specialist Leisure Group went into administration on May 22.

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Bailey, who has two high-street agencies, said: “If the management detected a groundswell of support from the trade and we showed we are were willing to do something, if it’s a matter of getting a certain amount of money together, that might help.

“In normal times I would have expected there to be a management buyout. If we, as the trade, can demonstrate a level of support to give them the confidence to do it.”

Bailey, who had around 60 bookings with Shearings when it ceased trading, said he would be prepared to receive lower commissions for a set period of time or sacrifice commissions “in exchange for some sort of pay-out further down the line” if it helped to save the brand.

But he warned there had to be a willingness on the part of the trade to support a crowdfunding appeal and put their hands in their pockets.

He said: “It should not be allowed to go [under]. My crowdfunding idea was a bit of an emotional reaction but I wanted to gauge reaction.

“Shearings was an excellent brand to work with and by and large, an excellent product. They had vastly improved their UK offering in the last 12 months. It was the cornerstone of the UK coach holiday industry; it was emblematic. It’s a very resilient market and it’s non-discounted product.”

He said he would be prepared to be part of a crowdfunding campaign despite the financial impact of the crisis on his own agency, which is likely to have refunded around £1 million worth of bookings by the time the crisis finishes.

Shearings: A brief history

1919: Shearings is founded in Oldham in 1919 by Herbert Shearing, although the roots of the business can be traced back to a haulage company called Webster Bros, founded in 1903, and a coach tours operation set up by James Smith in 1914 that offered trips from Wigan and Southport

1949: Herbert Shearing retires and two companies are formed: Shearings Tours (Manchester) Ltd and Shearings Tours (Oldham) Ltd. These are sold to James Robinson, owner of Happiway Tours, in 1953

1963: Shearings Tours are consolidated as Shearings Holidays

1964: The business is sold again and the coaches branded as Shearings-Pleasureways-Ribblesdale, shortened to Shearings Ribblesdale in 1979 and then to Shearings Holidays in 1982

1989: Mecca Leisure Group purchases Pleasurama and merges National Holidays with Shearings

1990: Mecca is taken over by The Rank Organisation, which sells Shearings Holidays to a management buyout in 1996, backed by Bridgepoint Capital

2005: Venture capital firm 3i, which owns travel agency Wallace Arnold, purchases a controlling stake in Shearings

2013: Shearings’ passenger numbers grow to a then-record 1.05 million, with sales of £195m and a profit before tax of £5.8m

2014: 3i and Indigo Capital sell the business for an undisclosed figure to a management team led by chief executive Denis Wormwell

2016: US investment company Lone Star Funds buys Shearings for an undisclosed sum

2017: Richard Calvert is appointed chief executive;
Shearings reports fourth successive year of record sales, profits and passenger numbers; Jane Atkins is appointed managing director of Shearings Holidays;
commercial director Caroline Brown leaves after 20 years with the business

2018: Shearings Leisure Group, the holding company for Shearings Holidays, Coast & Country Hotels, National Holidays and other brands, renames as Specialist Leisure Group

May 2020: Specialist Leisure Group goes into administration

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