Hays Travel will acquire the entire retail portfolio of 555 former Thomas Cook shops after it signed a deal with the official receiver and special managers from KPMG.
The independent travel company, based in Sunderland, has pledged to save 2,500 jobs and said the move gives it shops in areas where it had little or no presence, including Scotland and Wales.
The company has already employed more than 25 percent of the former Thomas Cook retail employees and is proposing to re-open the stores immediately where possible and to take on up to 2,500 people. More than 100 new jobs will be based at the company’s Sunderland headquarters with the rest in shops across the UK.
Thomas Cook was placed in compulsory liquidation on September 23, upon which the official receiver was appointed by the court as liquidator. Special managers from KPMG were also appointed by the court to assist the Official Receiver with the liquidation of the retail portion of the company.
Special managers from AlixPartners are assisting with the liquidation of the rest of the business, including its airline.
The deal is a substantial one for Hays, which already has 190 shops, 1,900 staff, and last year had sales of £379m, reporting profits of £10m.
The company is jointly owned and managed by John Hays, managing director, and Irene Hays, chair of the group.
Irene said: “Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand and a pillar of the UK and the global travel industry. 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.
“We all share a passion for the travel industry and we want to continue to build the company’s reputation for first class service and being a great place to work and develop a career.”
John said: “Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help.
“In the last two weeks we have already employed or offered jobs to around 600 former Thomas Cook colleagues, and it has been a very emotional experience for them. 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.”