A rival travel agency is set to buy hundreds of Thomas Cook stores after it collapsed last month, potentially saving up to 2,500 further jobs.
The UK’s largest independent travel agent Hays Travel announced today it will buy all 555 stores from the holiday company. The move could potentially save thousands of jobs after 9,000 staff lost out when the company went into administration last month. Hays Travel has told Sky News it had already taken on 494 former Thomas Cook employees.
The collapse of one of the world’s best known holiday brands prompted a repatriation exercise to recover more than 150,000 stranded holidaymakers. Hays told the BBC it planned to reopen all the shops with immediate effect, adding to the 190 stores to its portfolio.
Irene Hays, chair of Sunderland-based Hays, said: “Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand and a pillar of the UK and the global travel industry. “We will build on the good things Thomas Cook had – not least its people – and that will put us in even better stead for the future”.
Official Receiver David Chapman said the property deal, for an undisclosed sum, would provide opportunities for a “significant number” of former Thomas Cook workers. “I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement with Hays Travel to acquire Thomas Cook’s entire UK retail estate, comprising 555 stores across the country. “This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company’s assets.”
John and Irene Hays, managing director and group chair of Hays Travel Limited, told Sky: “Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them.”
Mr Hays told the BBC: “It is a game-changer for us, almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce – and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people. Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help.”