Rescue deal agreed

Hays Travel saves jobs after acquiring Thomas Cook shops

Closed shops will reopen (pic: Terry Murden)

Travel agent Hays Travel is acquiring the entire UK retail estate of collapsed rival Thomas Cook.

The company said all 555 of the firm’s stores will be taken on and it will re-employ a “significant” number of the 2,400 former shop staff who were made redundant when the operator went into liquidation in September. The shops will reopen immediately.

Hays works with tour operators such as Jet2 and TUI and already owns 190 travel agent shops.

Official Receiver David Chapman said: “This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise [Thomas Cook’s] assets.”

Hays has already employed more than 25% of former Thomas Cook retail staff but said it aimed to take on all 2,500 of those who have lost their jobs, almost doubling its current 1,900-strong payroll.

The firm has assisted in repatriating Thomas Cook customers who were overseas when the tour operator went bust on 23 September. It has also offered to help all of the Thomas Cook apprentices to complete their training at its Hays Travel Academy.

Hays describes itself as the largest privately owned-travel agent in Britain.

The Sunderland-based firm reached sales of more than £1bn in 2018. It is understood it will have a licence for six months to occupy Thomas Cook stores, giving it time to strike new deals with landlords.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “This is very welcome news offering real hope of reemployment to former Thomas Cook retail staff, many of whom are our members.  

“We have been clear from the start that Thomas Cook was a strong brand and that it was likely parts of the business would be able to move forward as a going concern. 

“Throughout the industry the talent, commitment and skills of our members working for Thomas Cook was well known and I have no doubt they will bring the same dedication to Hays.  

“We will now move swiftly to gather more details about the deal and are seeking an urgent meeting with Hays about the part our union can play in supporting what will be a significant expansion for them across our high streets.” 

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