All 555 Thomas Cook shops are to be bought by rival Hays Travel in a move that could save up to 2,500 jobs. The independent travel agent is buying the shops from the official receiver, which was appointed when Thomas Cook collapsed last month. Sunderland-based Hays said it planned to reopen all the shops with immediate effect.
Hays has already offered jobs to 600 Thomas Cook staff and it plans to hire more as part of its rapid expansion. The move is a significant step for Hays, which currently has 190 shops across the UK.
John Hays, who set up the company 40 years ago, said: “It is a gamechanger 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.” He and his wife Irene own the business which has 1,900 staff and last year had sales of GBP 1 billion (USD 1.22 billion).
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 it had — not least its people — and that will put us in even better stead for the future.”
“We will build on the good things it had”
More than 100 new jobs will be based at the company’s Sunderland headquarters, with the rest in shops across the UK. When Thomas Cook collapsed, it put 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK. It also sparked the biggest ever peacetime repatriation by Civil Aviation Authority to bring more than 150,000 British holidaymakers back to the UK. The last flight to repatriate Thomas Cook customers landed at Manchester Airport this week on Monday.
David Chapman, the official receiver described the sale to Hays Travel as an ‘important step’ in unravelling the 178-year-old chain. The business is thought to have a licence for six months to occupy Thomas Cook stores, giving Hays time to strike new deals with landlords.