Swansea's Diamond Coaches goes into administration

The largest holiday coach operator in Wales has gone into administration.

Swansea-based Diamond Coach Holidays organises trips around the UK and Europe.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), the official administrators, blamed "economic challenges" and said no holidays or day trips would leave "until further notice".

It said the provider of bond cover would be contacting holidaymakers, who had paid, about their claims.

A sign outside Diamond's Cardiff offices earlier said the company had ceased trading and was seeking an administration order.

Thousands of customers book holidays through the firm each year.

Diamond Coach Holidays began in 1954 and carries 80,000 people on board annually. The business includes Brian Isaac Coaches Ltd.

It is believed to have a workforce of around 70.

In recent years it made an investment of £5m in 20 brand new vehicles.

Image caption This notice was posted on the closed gate of Diamond's Cardiff office on Friday

The 2010 brochure says sales increased by 15% on the year before.

The depot is on the Swansea enterprise park but it also has two shops - one in Cardiff and one in Swansea.

Roger Hale, joint administrator and director at PwC said: "The companies have suffered as a result of the ongoing economic challenges facing this particular segment of the travel and hospitality sector, including increased fuel and other costs which resulted in difficult trading conditions."

It said the companies had "run out of alternative options".

"In the short term, the administrators have suspended business operations while they assess the options available. No holidays or day trips will leave until further notice."

"The administrators will be reviewing the position regarding outstanding customer bookings."

It said the companies were financially bonded with a total payment protection policy in respect of coach holidays sold before 31 December 2010.

The provider of this cover will be writing to all customers who have paid for outstanding coach holidays to provide those customers with guidance on submitting their claims.

"The administrators will be contacting customers who have paid for outstanding day trips."

The Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) said the company was one of the leading coach operators bringing customers to shows in Cardiff Bay.

"This weekend we were expecting two coach loads of customers through Diamond Coaches for Mamma Mia performances on Saturday and Sunday," said a spokesman.

"We have already made contact with the company who are now endeavouring to contact all bookers of these trips, as well as others scheduled until the end of the run on 23 January."

The venue said if any of those customers who have booked for these shows can make alternative travel arrangements to get to the WMC and can present the ticket office with confirmation of their specific booking with Diamond Coaches and ID, they would be given seats.

One UK holiday industry source in south Wales told BBC Wales: "They have struggled against local competition for the last few years so it will be sad for the industry if they do go under but there will still be plenty of choice for the public as coach holidays are still very strong in south Wales."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "This is disappointing news and if these developments lead to redundancies we will do all we can to help employees affected find new work or retrain.

"We remain hopeful that other companies will be interested in acquiring the business."

Darren Millar AM, the Welsh Conservatives' economic spokesman, said: "This is devastating news for the workers and their families, not to mention all those people who were looking forward to holidays with the travel firm.

"Labour-Plaid Ministers need to work closely with the company to help any workers who do lose their jobs to find new roles or reskill.

"This is further evidence that the Welsh economy is facing challenging times and needs a clearer strategy for economic growth in Wales."

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