Goldtrail’s travel agency fails

A travel agency owned by Goldtrail Holidays, the Turkey and Greece specialist operator that ceased trading on Friday, has failed today.

Quickstep Leisure operated as a retailing arm for Goldtrail, which collapsed on Friday with 16,000 customers overseas and 50,000 forward bookings.

The bulk Quickstep’s business came from selling the operator’s holidays and many Goldtrail customers hoping to receive refunds for lost holidays will have booked through Quickstep.

A Plimsoll analysis has revealed that before its collapse the agency had been trading healthily, with a pre tax profit of £155,000 on total sales of £10.4 million for the year ending September 30, 2009.

This gave it a pre tax profit margin of 1.5% – well above the industry average of 0.9%, according to a Plimsoll report on the firm.

The agency’s profitability was also reflected in Goldtrail’s own balance sheet for the same period when the pre tax profit margin rose from 0.4% to 0.8% following the making of a pre tax profit of £453,000 from total sales of £54.4 million.

Goldtrail employees also achieved average sales of £2.7 million each during the last financial year, well above the industry average of £263,000, while the average salary at the operator was £43,000, again well above the industry average of £27,000.

Plimsoll senior analyst Chris Evans said: “This has caught us a little by surprise. The margins are wafer thin but there are far worse examples of tour operators in trouble in the market.

“When XL [Leisure Group] and Globespan went, there were clear signs of their demise, whereas Goldtrail is a different case entirely. There is no heavy bank debt and the business has almost doubled in the last 4 years.

“Clearly something has happened behind the scenes but there was nothing obvious in the financial performance of Goldtrail or Quickstep to suggest administration was imminent.”

Quickstep, like Goldtrail, was based in New Malden and also operated under the trading name of Quickstep Travel.

All retail claims following the failure of Quickstep will be handled by CEGA, Abta’s claims handling partner.

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