Package holiday pioneer goes into administration

The oldest package holiday company in London has gone into administration.

The Travel Club of Upminster, which was established in 1936, sold holidays to the Balearic Islands, Portugal and Greece. Yesterday its administrators, Shipleys, said the holiday company was "unable to continue trading as a result of an inability to meet guaranteed payments to key overseas accommodation suppliers".

Its owner, Tony Freudmann, told The Independent: "The staff battled very hard this year in very difficult trading conditions, and until the very last minute we hoped we would reach an accommodation with our supplier. A search for a buyer goes on."

The company was not bonded, because it sold accommodation independently of flights. Customers of the firm checking in at some Majorca hotels in the past two weeks had been asked to pay their bill a second time.

Only a few dozen customers are thought to have forward bookings. They have been told that their best chance of getting a refund rests with claiming from their credit-card company. The Travel Club of Upminster was established by Harry and Rene Chandler, following a cycling tour of Switzerland. The family then started selling the first discernible package holidays to Portugal – and are credited with "discovering" the Algarve as a holiday destination.

After the Second World War, the firm expanded across Europe, initially selling packages from Bournemouth to Basel for 42 guineas (£44.10). The Travel Club of Upminster traded successfully through to the turn of the 21st century, but the proliferation of choice made possible by the low-cost airlines undercut its business model. For the past two weeks, the company has been seeking another buyer.

Paul Chandler, who sold the business two years ago, said: "I'm sad that a pioneering company which provided holidays to hundreds of thousands of travellers is no longer able to compete in the increasingly consolidated industry." His new venture, Chandler's Travel and Cruise, is unaffected by the failure, and is a bonded member of Abta.

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