Dozens of Midland drivers have been made redundant and left without wages following the sudden closure of well-known coach firm Bowens amid reported debts of £6 million.
Drivers at depots throughout the UK found gates locked in the wake of the collapse of the Tamworth-based travel group while customers were told they would receive advisory letters for refunds.
But shocked staff face a bleak future after administrators Deloitte confirmed that 393 people across the UK had been made redundant. Just 55 employees have been retained as a skeleton staff.
Bowens travel agency branches across the region forming part of a 38-store empire have also shut in the wake of the collapse of the group, which dates back to 1928.
A Tamworth-based driver, who asked not to be named, said: “They have locked the gates and no wages have gone in. Most people have lost their jobs and travel shops have shut.
“It’s a disaster for so many people. They have still been taking bookings for people going on holidays all over the continent. They’ve been ducking and diving but it seems to be down to bad management. The debt is rumoured to be around £5 million to £6 million.”
Matt Cowlishaw, joint administrator and partner in Deloitte’s restructuring services team, said: “After exploring all possible avenues for the future of the group, it became clear that due to lack of funds it would be unable to continue to trade. As a result an orderly closure is being implemented.
“We are working hard to assist the 393 employees with generating claims through the Redundancy Payments Service. We are also seeking a sale for the assets of the group in order to retrieve as much value as possible for creditors.
“We are working closely with Bonded Coach Holidays to assist impacted customers, ensuring that all are fully aware of the situation and next steps. Customers will receive a letter during the coming days providing information and advice for claiming a refund for unfulfilled holidays. We are also seeking an alternative coach operator to fulfil forthcoming trips and ensure minimal disruption.”