Hays Travel lifeline for 2,500 Thomas Cook employess

Independent travel agency agrees to acquire former Thomas Cook high street stores

Thousands of Thomas Cook ex-employees have found a lifeline after the UK’s largest independent travel agent, Hays Travel, agreed to purchase the company’s high-street shops for an undisclosed sum.

The 40-year-old company has agreed to acquire the entire retail portfolio of 555 former Thomas Cook outlets, inking a deal with the UK’s Official Receiver and Special Managers from KPMG.

The move could save up to 2,500 jobs, and builds on the decision by Hays Travel to employ over a quarter of the former Thomas Cook retail employees. This new arrangement is proposing to reopen the stores with immediate effect where possible, under the Hays Travel branding. Over 100 new jobs will be based at the company’s Sunderland headquarters with the rest in shops across the UK.

Thomas Cook was placed in compulsory liquidation on 23 September, with the Official Receiver appointed by the court as liquidator. Special Managers from KPMG were also appointed by the court to assist the Official Receiver with the liquidation.

John and Irene Hays, Managing Director and Chair of Hays Travel Group
John and Irene Hays, Managing Director and Chair of Hays Travel Group

Hays Travel stepped in at the time, immediately supporting thousands of customers on holiday or with holidays booked. They offered jobs to over 600 former Thomas Cook employees, and offered to help all of the Thomas Cook apprentices complete their training at the Hays Travel Academy.

Owned by John Hays (Managing Director) and Irene Hays (Chair of the Hays Travel Group), Hays Travel already owns 190 retail travel stores across the UK. The buyout of Thomas Cook’s UK stores and many of the 2,500 former employees in coming weeks will double its workforce.

“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,” Irene Hays said.

“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.”

“Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help,” said John Hays.

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

“I’m very proud of the fantastic team who have helped me build Hays Travel over almost 40 years and they have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to bring this about. 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.”

The Sunderland-based company reached sales of more than £1 billion in 2018 and celebrated by sharing £1m with its 1,900 employees, who each received £100 for every year they’d worked there.

Lead image credit: Fareham Shopping Centre

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