Britain’s largest independent travel agent has agreed to buy all 555 of Thomas Cook’s shops, potentially offering a job lifeline to thousands of the bust travel firm’s former retail staff.
Hays Travel bought the shops for an undisclosed sum and said it had already re-employed 625 of the 2,500 former Thomas Cook employees.
The company said it “hopes” to take on all the former employees in the coming weeks, in a move that would double its workforce.
Adding Cook's outlets will boost Hays’ existing estate of 190 shops three-fold, as well as adding 100 people to its Sunderland headquarters.
The agreement was signed with the Official Receiver, appointed by the court as liquidator following the bankruptcy announcement on 23 September, and accounting giant KPMG.
Hays, a family company founded in 1980, had an annual turnover of £1bn as of last year.
“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,” said the group’s chair Irene Hays.
Thomas Cook went bust after 178 years of trading in September when Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (LON:RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) demanded it find an extra £200mln on top of a £900mln rescue deal to keep itself afloat over the traditionally quieter winter period.
“Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate,” said Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG who is overseeing Thomas Cook’s retail division.