Velvet buses – trading as Black Velvet Travel Ltd – have ceased to trade as of 5pm this evening after running into “financial difficulty”.
Eastleigh News understands that staff were told of the closure of the company just minutes before it was due to close.
A notice on the company website simply states the company has stopped trading and refers enquiries to insolvency specialists Chantrey Vellacott DFK .
The Chandler’s Ford based company founded by director Phil Stockley, first started operating in 2008 and employed 22 people all of whom are now redundant.
Liquidators are expected to be appointed in the coming weeks.
In 2013 it operated had a fleet of 29 of distinctive purple liveried buses.
Matthew Fox of Chantry Vellacott DFK said in a statement:
“Despite the best efforts of the company’s director Black Velvet Travel has struggled to fill the void of losing a number of major contracts due to increased competition.
“The director has been in talks to sell the company to new owners for some time but talks have repeatedly broken down. With no prospect of a sale and debts accumulating the possibility of continuing to trade without major investment is not possible.
“We’re working with the management team to conduct a full review of its assets, to secure, as far as possible, any statutory benefits due to staff and to help assist the transfer of services to other providers.”
As of October 2013, Velvet operated ten day and two night routes under contract to Eastleigh Borough Council and in April it announced it would be running its Marwell Zoo service again this season.
But low passenger numbers and other problems meant that the company has been shedding routes since January.
The 300, N6 and N8 were axed in April and competitors Xelabus have recently taken over some of Velvet’s Barton Peveril College routes and the Eastleigh to Hedge End part of the A route, renaming it the X4.
In May the company transferred the 67 service between Winchester and Petersfield to stagecoach and Xelabus
Evening and Sunday journeys on the X7 and E8 were due to be transferred to Xelabus this month.
Wheeler’s Travel have said they will be operating Velvet’s A route from Hedge End to Southampton from tomorrow morning.
while Bluestar will be running the S1, S2 and B4.
It is not clear if the new service providers will be able to honour monthly bus passes issued by Velvet.
Phil Stockley, director of Black Velvet Travel, said:
“After six years of hard work it is very sad that the company has come to an end in this way.
“The efforts and commitment of the team over the last six years have been exemplary and we hope the process will be as smooth as possible for all concerned.”