Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Thomas Cook's UK stores to be bought by Hays Travel after collapse

After 178 years of booking holidays, the world's largest travel company went out of business in September

Thomas Cook had blamed a slowdown in bookings because of Brexit uncertainty for contributing to its crushing debt burden. Reuters
Thomas Cook had blamed a slowdown in bookings because of Brexit uncertainty for contributing to its crushing debt burden. Reuters

British company Hays Travel has agreed to buy all 555 UK stores from bankrupt Thomas Cook.

The announcement was made on Wednesday, few days after the final batch of the 140,000 passengers from the UK left stranded abroad were returned home. On Monday, the British government completed the country's biggest peacetime repatriation.

The word’s largest travel company Thomas Cook filed for bankruptcy less than three weeks ago. In total, around 600,000 travellers were left with no travel bookings when the 178-year-old company crashed.

Hays Travel has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff and says it plans to reopen all the shops with immediate effect.

On Wednesday, founders of the independent travel agent, John and Irene Hays said in a statement: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them.

"The agreement will see Hays Travel acquire a total of 555 stores around the UK, providing re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former employees of Thomas Cook's retail operations who were made redundant."

Thomas Cook's demise led to 22,000 job losses worldwide.

It is expected that more than 100 new jobs will be based at Hay’s Sunderland headquarters, with the rest in shops across the UK.

The company, which was founded 40 years ago, currently has 190 offices across the UK.

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

"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.”

The takeover will treble the number of Hays shops and double its workforce.

Updated: October 9, 2019 03:52 PM

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