Former CT Plus owner HCT in administration days after sale

THE former owner of Guernsey’s bus company went into administration just days after it sold the local firm, it has emerged.

Pictured in 2015, Frank Villeneuve-Smith Communications who was the director for HCT Group, CT Plus general manager Kevin Hart and Operations Director Lee Murphy. (31323221)
Pictured in 2015, Frank Villeneuve-Smith Communications who was the director for HCT Group, CT Plus general manager Kevin Hart and Operations Director Lee Murphy. (31323221)

Administrators were appointed for HCT Group on 23 September, a week after it sold Guernsey’s CT Plus to Australian company Tower Transit.

While no official statement has come from the group, its former communications director Frank Villeneuve-Smith unofficially published a draft statement that he had prepared on social media.

In this he said that the administrators were appointed following a period of difficult trading before the pandemic and the financial impact of the pandemic itself, followed by the cost of living crisis and the increase in fuel prices.

HCT had moved to reduce the impact as much as possible by selling off subsidiaries like CT Plus and its Jersey counterpart Liberty Bus, or transferring services to other operators.

HCT branded itself as a social enterprise, a business that trades to tackle social problems and improve communities. It operated bus services, social services transport, school buses and more across the UK.

The company had provided close to 2m. passenger trips for community groups and disadvantaged people, and was described as a model of a community-led transport service. Sales and transfers of group companies have meant that many services are continuing.

Mr Villeneuve-Smith said it was a sad day for the group and staff had done everything they could to prevent the situation.

‘Our position cannot be sustained any further,’ he said.

‘We have run out of road.’

After the sale of CT Plus was announced, Environment & Infrastructure president Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez said the committee had been kept in the loop throughout the sale process.

‘From our perspective, we need the assurance that the contract can be fulfilled and we are satisfied that it can be,’ she told the Guernsey Press at the time of the deal.

‘We’ve been kept up to date. We were making sure that services were not going to be disrupted.’

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