Travel agent goes bust just ahead of Christmas payday

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Workers at a travel agency face a grim Christmas – after their firm went bust nine days before their December pay day.

Twenty workers at Davis World Travel's four branches in Fareham, Portchester, Gosport and Lee-on-the-Solent were due to be paid on Christmas Eve.

But now they will have to wait until after Christmas to receive government handouts.

The independent company, which had run for 53 years, stopped trading on Wednesday and was yesterday placed in liquidation.

Insolvency advisor Anthony Fanshawe, who's handling the liquidation process, said: 'It's been in some financial difficulties for a while.

'The directors did try to find a solution by seeking a sale of the business.

'Unfortunately the process wasn't successful and finally the banks withdrew funding and the directors were unable to trade.'

Customers ringing the branches yesterday heard a recorded answer phone message saying: 'It is with great regret that we have had to close, and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all our clients for their support over the years.'

More than 400 people had holidays booked through Davis World Travel for next year.

The Association of British Travel Agents said the overwhelming number of trips booked will have been with big brand package holiday firms.

These tour operators are obligated to provide the holidays, even if the travel agency is not trading.

It advised any customers in doubt to contact their individual tour operators.

It also means that the staff will have to rely on the state's emergency support fund, which offers support when a firm goes under owing unpaid wages.

The government's Insolvency Service offers the chance to claim up to 380-worth of weekly wages – with a maximum limit of 20 weeks'-worth.

On the subject of pay, Mr Fanshawe said: 'They'll have to rely on the government redundancy office.

'It's now likely to be not until after Christmas.'

Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: 'On a personal level it's terribly sad.

'Dickie Davis set the company up and he died a few years ago.

'It was very successful, and now it's going to be a very sad loss.

'But it's perhaps an unsurprising casualty of the recession.

'When people are fearing for their jobs they're not thinking about foreign travel.'

For more information call the Redundancy Payments Office helpline on 0845 145 0004.