Former Joe Walsh Tours shareholder David Walsh is buying its main assets from liquidator KPMG in a bid to revive the business.
The High Court appointed Eamonn Richardson and Andrew O'Leary of KPMG as liquidators to Joe Walsh Tours and other linked companies when Government Covid restrictions forced the travel agent to fold in April.
A statement on Wednesday confirmed that Mr Walsh is buying Joe Walsh's brands, including Pilgrimages Abroad and Concorde Travel, websites, goodwill and other assets from the liquidators.
KPMG sought competing bids for the assets during the summer, and Mr Walsh’s offer was the best received.
The price was not disclosed, but it is understood that it will not cover the €5 million in liabilities left when the travel agent and tour operator was placed in liquidation.
The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) is refunding customers of Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours in the Republic who were prevented from travelling by the liquidation. The company had a bond with the regulator to cover this. The process is still ongoing.
UK customers have been refunded through the Total Payment Protection policy provided by Travel & General Insurances Ltd.
The €5 million liabilities included holidaymakers and business creditors such as suppliers. The bondholders will become creditors in the liquidation.
Mr Walsh’s new business is seeking a licence from the CAR, which regulates travel agents. It plans to operate in various specialist tour markets, including pilgrimages, in which the original group was a leading player.
A spokesman said that parishes, dioceses and special-interest groups had all signalled the need for a licensed and bonded travel company to aid them in organising trips. “We are ready to facilitate these groups,” he added.
Joe Walsh Tours grew into one of Ireland’s best-known travel businesses after first opening its doors in 1961. Mr Walsh and other family members, Margaret and Barry Walsh, took over the business from its founder, Joe Walsh.
The company had hoped to raise additional cash earlier this year, but Government foreign travel bans deterred investment in its industry. Joe Walsh was one of several companies in the travel and aviation sectors forced into liquidation or some form of insolvency process during the pandemic.
Airline Stobart Air ceased trading in June while rival CityJet was restructured in an examinership last year.