Neon Communications, the marketing and PR company headed by former Birmingham Young Professional of the Year Ruth Ward, has ceased trading.

The Edgbaston company stopped its operations after director Ms Ward departed for a round the world trip. The two remaining staff have been taken on by Willoughby PR, along with the company's operations.

Ms Ward, who was named Birmingham Young Professional of the Year for 2006, left the company to start a six-month jaunt. Some of the clients have been taken on by Willoughby, where Ms Ward worked before setting up Neon two and a half years ago.

A letter has been sent to Neon's suppliers informing them of the change. Julia Willoughby, who was a shareholder in Neon, said: "Ruth wanted to go travelling. She made a decision to go around the world, and it was easier for her to leave the company.

"Neon was a separate company to Willoughby, but we were in the same building and I was a shareholder, so it made sense to move it in-house. We made the decision jointly.

"Ruth and I got on well, and she worked here for seven years and I knew about this for six months. It's all been very amicable. There were no financial problems at all. Everyone understands what is happening."

Ms Ward, who started her trip in New Zealand, is expected to be back just before Christmas, but will not be returning to the company.