Hays Travel has stepped in to save 555 Thomas Cook stores amid the company’s administration after its collapse last month. The independent travel agency has already been driving a recruitment mission to employ 421 of Thomas Cook’s former staff. Hays have also offered further employment to its airline crew. Now the Sunderland-based firm is making moves to save the 175-year-old travel operator’s failing stores from sitting empty.
The holiday operator is hoping to boost its high street presence by making the purchase, hoping to complement its existing 190 travel agent shops.
According to Hays, the new stores will provide a “significant” number of re-employment opportunities for Thomas Cook staff who had previously been left in the lurch.
A statement John and Irene Hays, owners of Hays Travel, said: “Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them.”
The independent firm was started in 1980 by John Hays, who set up shop behind his mother’s clothing store in Seaham, Durham,
Since 2018 the firm has reached a turnover of £1billion.
Customers have flocked to Twitter to share their delight over the news.
One Twitter user commented: “@HaysTravel news so heartening-makes me want to use them and venture into the high street to book holidays. Our beloved high streets are becoming retail graveyards.
“I have to change the way I shop even for holidays it appears.”
Meanwhile, another wrote: “kudos @HaysTravel we use their excellent shop in @ManorWalks Cramlington. Staff helpful, friendly & knowledgeable. Hopefully, this means some #thomascookstaff will be re-employed.”
“This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company’s assets,” said David Chapman, the Official Receiver of Thomas Cook.
The positive update has come following a detrimental period for both staff and customers of Thomas Cook.
Last month the agency went into sudden liquidation following the news that it was unable to pay outstanding debts.
After losing £1.5billion last winter, the firm was left scrambling to find £200million extra funds to prevent its collapse.
The UK government stepped in to embark on a 180,000 person repatriation effort dubbed “Project Matterhorn”.
Since then an investigation has been launched into the agent’s accountancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) over the handling of the accounts.