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Thomas Cook stores sold to Hays Travel

Thomas Cook, Barrhead travel, cruise,

All 555 Thomas Cook stores are to be bought by Hays Travel, it has been revealed.

The move could provide re-employment for up to 2,500 staff who were made redundant following the collapse of Thomas Cook in September, leading to the UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation exercise to bring home holidaymakers.

Hays has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff.

Up to 100 new jobs will be based at Hays’ Sunderland headquarters and the purchase will almost triple the firm’s retail network.

Hays Travel managing director John Hays said: “Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help.

“In the last two weeks we have already employed or offered jobs to around 600 former Thomas Cook colleagues, and it has been a very emotional experience for them.

“Now that we are able to re-open the shops, we are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry into our family business. 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.”

Irene Hays, chair of the Hays Travel Group, said that Hays will “build on the good things Thomas Cook had, not least its people”, adding: “We all share a passion for the travel industry and we want to continue to build the company’s reputation for first-class service and being a great place to work and develop a career.”

The official receiver David Chapman added: “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.”

KPMG partner and joint special manager of Thomas Cook’s retail division Jim Tucker said: “This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement.

“It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street.

“We are pleased to have achieved this in a short time frame and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties. Over the weeks ahead we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate.”

Reacting to the news, RSM’s head of travel and tourism Ian Bell said it could “well prove to be a shrewd move for Hays”, but added a note of caution.

“Not only do they gain some of the highly regarded former Thomas Cook staff, they will also earn a lot of goodwill from former loyal Thomas Cook customers,” he explained.

“That said, this deal does represent a huge expansion for Hays Travel at a time when a growing number of consumers are shunning high street travel agents in favour of booking online. Much may depend on the deals that Hays can strike with its new high street landlords.”

GlobalData’s head of R&A, travel & tourism Nick Wyatt also welcomed the news, but argued that”the deal is not without peril”. “It [Hays] will have to conduct a review of store locations and operations and there may be a need for a rationalisation at some point, particularly in areas in which Hays already has a strong presence. Hays will also need to make sure it invests in digital trends as competitive online threats to a large store network are legion.”

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