Travel agency swoops for Thomas Cook's United Kingdom retail estate

Travel agency swoops for Thomas Cook's United Kingdom retail estate

The acquisition of Thomas Cook's entire United Kingdom store estate by family-run Hays Travel is a fairytale ending to a nightmare month for staff of one of Britain's best-loved brands.

The independent travel company, with 555 locations, said the move gives it shops in areas where it had little or no presence, including Scotland and Wales.

Thomas Cook's collapse on September 23 under a mountain of debt led to 9 000 job losses in the United Kingdom and left 150 000 people stuck overseas, with the holiday plans of thousands more ruined.

Founder John Hays said: "It is a game-changer for us, nearly 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".

Hays Travel was founded in 1980 by husband and wife Irene and John Hays.

Hays said that as Thomas Cook's largest third-party agent he met with executives from the doomed company a week before it went under and left "feeling reassured" that it would survive.

Following the appointment of the Official Receiver last month, Hays Travel have already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook personnel and have further offers outstanding to former employees.

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"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".

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 United Kingdom retail estate, comprising 555 stores across the country".

David Chapman, director of the Official Receiver, remarked that the sale "represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company's assets".

"This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement", said Jim Tucker, a KPMG partner who was appointed joint special manager of Thomas Cook's retail division after the failure.

We are very grateful to all our Hays Travel colleagues who have worked their socks off to help make this happen over the last two weeks.

Irene Hays, the chairwoman of Hays Travel, rubbished a claim by Ryanair CEO, Michael O'Leary, that the number of people booking flights and hotels online meant the package holiday industry was "screwed".

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