Hays Travel buys 555 Thomas Cook shops, saving up to 2,500 jobs

Hays Travel To Buy Thomas Cook's UK stores British Agency

Northern Ireland jobs 'could be saved' in Thomas Cook store purchase

Hundreds of Thomas Cook jobs could have been saved after an independent travel agent agreed to buy the failed firm's high street shops.

The town's Market Place shop closed on Monday September 23 following the collapse of the 178-year-old chain, leaving three full-time members of staff out of a job and customers across the borough losing their booked holidays or being left stranded overseas without a flight home.

Sunderland-based Hays Travel, which claims it is the UK's largest independent travel agent, is buying the shops from the Official Receiver, which was appointed when Thomas Cook collapsed last month.

Melton Borough Council's deputy leader and portfolio holder for growth and prosperity, Councillor Leigh Higgins, welcomed this morning's news.

Thomas Cook had a store in Inglis Street.

Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG, added: "This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement.

Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate".

Hays Travel, which you may have heard of but probably haven't as our reader stats suggest you're 30 years too young to be hanging around in package holiday shops weighing up 11-day cruise options, has come to the rescue of Thomas Cook.

Meanwhile, the company will consider the future of under-performing shops in places where Hays and Thomas Cook sites overlap.

John and Irene Hays, managing director and group chairwoman of Hays Travel, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people".

Hays has already offered jobs to 600 Thomas Cook staff and it plans to hire more as part of its rapid expansion.

He said: "This is very welcome news offering real hope of reemployment to former Thomas Cook retail staff, many of whom are our members".

Hays Travel is one of the top 100 mid-size United Kingdom firms to work for, according to a Sunday Times listing.

Employers including Next, Tui and the NHS were all at the event - former Thomas Cook staff could also receive information on their next steps after the business folded, and find out about benefits they may be entitled to.

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