Hays Travel buys Thomas Cook shops saving 2,500 jobs

A closed Thomas Cook store in Manchester following the travel agent's collapse.
Photo: John B Hewitt / Shutterstock

As many as 2,500 jobs at Thomas Cook could be saved after Hays Travel agreed to buy the collapsed travel agent’s retail portfolio

Independent travel agent Hays will acquire 555 former Thomas Cook shops after it signed a deal with receivers.

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

Thomas Cook went into compulsory liquidation on 23 September. Sunderland-based Hays has already employed 421 former Thomas Cook retail staff and, where possible, is planning to re-open the stores with immediate effect.  More than 100 new jobs will be based at the company’s headquarters with the remainder in shops across the UK.

Former Thomas Cook employees in England Scotland and Wales are eligible for statutory redundancy payments and the Insolvency Service said this will not be affected by them being employed by Hays.

Irene Hays, chair of the Hays Travel Group, 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 Thomas Cook had – not least its people – and that will put us in even better stead for the future.

“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.”

Hays Travel had 190 shops across the UK and the privately-held company hopes to take on as many of the 2,500 former Thomas Cook retail employees as possible, doubling its workforce.

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.”

The 40-year-old company recorded sales of more than £1 billion last year. Each of its 1900 employees received £100 for every year’s service.

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

Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG and joint special manager of Thomas Cook’s retail division, 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.”

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