Hatts Travel closure: Wiltshire Council 'aware firm had problems'
11:56am Monday 28th July 2014 in By Jill Crooks, Devizes area senior reporter
It has emerged that there were signs that Hatts Travel, which was founded in the 1920s, was struggling before it closed on Friday with the loss of 89 jobs.
Wiltshire Council deputy leader John Thomson said the council was notified on Wednesday that Hatts, which was based at Foxham, near Chippenham, would be going into administration.
But the council had been aware that Hatts had had problems for a while, although not to the extent where the firm would have to stop trading.
Coun Thomson said: “The receivers came to us on July 23 and said the company was insolvent.
“They did keep it going until the start of the summer holidays and the receivers have to be thanked for that.
"I hope the employees find jobs with the other bus operators.”
One man, who is understood to be a former employee, said: “When Adrian Hillier took over he was handed a thriving business and it could have continued to have been.
“Unfortunately there was a certain amount of arrogance and over-expansion.
“I feel sorry for the staff, who have done their best and are now shocked to find that they are out of work.”
Hatts is understood to have taken delivery of a £500,000 luxury coach at its base near Chippenham within the last couple of weeks, yet a Wiltshire school party found the air-conditioning on their coach failed when temperatures rose during a recent trip to the continent.
One teacher, who did not want to be named, said: “Every time the temperature went over a certain level the air-conditioning would pack up which is, of course, exactly when you need it.
“The driver had a good look and told us the coach no longer had the original unit.
“It had obviously failed and been replaced with what were told was a cheaper version – it certainly wasn’t up to the task.”
Hatts’ administrator FRP Advisory has confirmed that the closure of the company had not left any holidaymakers stranded.
A spokesman said:"At the date of appointment of FRP Advisory as administrators to Hatts on Friday, July 25, there were no holidays that were out on the road anywhere – no one was or has been stranded."