A WILTSHIRE bus company has gone into administration, resulting in the loss of 89 jobs and affecting 1,000 holidaymakers.

Family firm Hatts Travel has appointed restructuring specialists FRP Advisory as administrators and it has announced the majority of its operations will cease trading.

Hatts, which has been run by the Hillier family since 1928, is based in Chippenham and has offices and depots there and in Salisbury and Worton near Devizes.

The company runs coach holiday tours and its contracts include Wiltshire Council.

The council has confirmed Salisbury Reds will be taking over some of the services, and confirmed the park and ride service Hatts operates in Salisbury will continue to run, safeguarding 32 jobs.

Andrew Sheridan, partner at FRP Advisory and joint administrator with Gareth Morris, said: “It is deeply regrettable and sad for all concerned that the majority of Hatts operations should have to stop trading. The businesses simply ran out of cash.

“We are acutely aware of the distress and hardship many holidaymakers and day trippers will be suffering right now particularly as so many of these are of an ‘older generation’.

“Our priority right now is to contact and provide dedicated helpline support for those members of the general public who have paid for holidays, day trips and other private hire with Hatts.

“We will ensure that they are advised of their statutory rights under the Consumer Credit Act where, in the first instance, if they have paid by credit or debit card they should make contact with their card providers.”

The council said schools should not be affected as there will be new coach operators in place by the end of the school holidays.

The spokesman said that bus services that have new providers are being run on an interim basis at least for the next month and then the council will have to re-tender for the services.

Salisbury Reds bus company has taken over operating the following services: 7 and 8A - Devizes Road/Quidhampton to the city centre, 12 - Stratford Bridge, Devonshire Road and Wyndham Road to the city centre, 14 – Milton Road, Harvard Heights and Harnham Hill to the city centre, 44 – Salisbury, Odstock, Downton, Redlynch, Woodfalls, and 66 – Salisbury to Tidworth via Shipton Bellinger.

Another service, the 29 from Shaftesbury to Salisbury via the Chalke Valley villages, will be run by sister firm Damory Coaches.

A council spokesperson said: “Following the notification from Hatts Travel Group – which includes Bodman Coaches, Hatts Coaches and Wiltshire Buses – that the company had ceased trading, we have been working hard to minimise the impact on users.

“We recognise there may be some initial disruption to services and we would like to apologise for the inconvenience this may cause.

“We would like to reassure users that we are doing everything we can to provide services and to minimise the impact.”

A helpline has been set up for those affected, call 0800 4704633.