European managed vacations business Awaze has announced it is to close its James Villas brand.
The company ceased taking bookings today, October 30, putting 40 roles at risk of redundancy. A staff consultation process has now started, with alternative opportunities across the wider Awaze group part of that review.
A consultation has also begun on the proposed closure of the villa specialist’s offices in Maidstone, Kent.
The company stressed the move was a strategic business decision related to James Villas’ business model, and not related to the current market.
The villa specialist relies on guaranteed product, which is paid for up front, as opposed to a commission-based model, which operates across the group’s other brands.
The move comes as Awaze focuses on the future growth of its core portfolio of brands, which include Hoseasons and Cottages.com, and prepares to launch a common sales platform for its European product range.
The company, which recently created a three-strong trade relations team to focus on agent sales and promoted Dave Woollcott to general manager in July, confirmed it had considered other options but was not currently considering a sale of the brand.
Chief executive Henrik Kjelberg said: “Our focus at Awaze is to sell holiday homes that we manage exclusively on behalf of our owners. With our integration plans behind a common platform far advanced for our combined European inventory, we have decided to cease trading with James Villas as that model relied on guaranteed inventory.
“James Villas core inventory represents less than 1% of our total supply. We will work hard to ensure we minimise the impact on our employees, suppliers and customers. We remain committed to keep growing our supply base behind a model that is flexible and winning in the marketplace.”
All existing James Villas customers are being contacted this week about their bookings with the brand, which has around 600 guaranteed villas across Europe.
Customers with bookings that return on or before November 30 will be unaffected by the closure and their breaks will go ahead as planned. Customers whose bookings are cancelled after this date will be given a full refund and the option to book another Awaze Group property.
Villa owners impacted are also being contacted this week.
Staff and clients at other Awaze brands are unaffected by the closure. In total, the Awaze portfolio of brands have more than 100,000 properties across the UK and Europe.
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