UK Independent Agency Hays Travel Agrees to Purchase Thomas Cook’s Retail Stores

by Daniel McCarthy
UK Independent Agency Hays Travel Agrees to Purchase Thomas Cook’s Retail Stores

Hays Travel said the deal will allow it to reopen 555 of Thomas Cook’s retail locations. Photo: John B Hewitt / 

As the fallout from Thomas Cook’s collapse continues to ripple through the travel industry, some good news came out of the UK today.

Hays Travel, the UK’s largest independent travel agency and a British travel agency consortium, has reportedly agreed to a deal with the country’s Insolvency Services to buy 555 of Thomas Cook’s retail locations in the UK. 

In a message on its website, Hays Travel said the deal will allow it to reopen “the stores with immediate effect where possible and to take on up to 2,500 people,” which would double its workforce.

Hays’ workforce, according to the statement, was already composed of more than 25% of the former Thomas Cook retail employees and the company has taken on about 600 former Thomas Cook employees over the last two weeks.

“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,” Irene Hays, the chair of the Hays Travel Group, said in the statement.

“Now that we are able to reopen the shops, we are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry, into our family business,” John Hays, managing director of Hays, said.

Hays Travel, which is based in Sunderland in Northeast England and has been in business for 40 years, owns 190 retail shops across the UK. It is a private company, jointly owned and managed by John Hays and Irene Hays. It opened its first branch in 1980 and a second shop two years later. In 2018, the company passed the £1 billion mark.

Thomas Cook entered compulsory liquidation last month after years of struggling financially for a number of reasons, including the emergence of low-cost carriers, online rivals, and Brexit issues; and had been trying for months to secure a business deal that would keep operations intact, but was unable to do so.

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