Hays Travel to buy Thomas Cook stores

A Thomas Cook travel agent store

Hays Travel has announced it will buy more than 500 stores from recently collapsed Thomas Cook.

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

Lancashire's Thomas Cook shops are set to reopen after an independent travel agent stepped in to save thousands of United Kingdom jobs.

Along with Hays Travel the company also runs the Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel agents, and Just Go Travel.

There were 9,000 staff in the United Kingdom who lost out when the company collapsed last month - prompting the country's biggest peacetime repatriation exercise to recover more than 150,000 holidaymakers stranded overseas.

"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".

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

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Hays, which currently has 190 shops across the United Kingdom, is now planning to reopen all the shops - including Thomas Cook on George Street in Altrincham - with immediate effect "where possible".

"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", said Tucker, who was appointed joint special manager of Thomas Cook's retail division.

The company said that in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Thomas Cook, Britain's oldest travel firm, it offered to help all Thomas Cook apprentices to complete their training at the Ofsted-accredited Hays Travel Academy.

He and his wife Irene own the business which has 1,900 staff and a year ago had sales of £379m, reporting profits of £10m.

It is not yet known if Thomas Cook stores in Plymouth, other parts of Devon and Cornwall will form part of the deal.

The deal could save 555 stores across the country and is a boost for struggling British high streets.

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