Hays Travel has hired nearly 100 non-Thomas Cook staff to work at the former branches it has acquired.

The 95 new recruits have been employed to work at some of the 555 former Thomas Cook shops Hays has acquired the leases to occupy for up to 12 months.

The independent agency has already taken on more than 2,000 ex-Cook employees and a further 59 job offers have been made. It has opened over 450 former Cook shops so far.

Chair Irene Hays told Travel Weekly the 95 non-Cook staff were from a mixture of backgrounds, including experienced agents from competitors, new entrants to the industry and some former travel agents returning to the role.

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She acknowledged that a number of former Cook agents had chosen to join other agencies, but said she was confident there was enough talent to fill positions in all the retail locations where Hays acquired the leases to occupy following Cook’s demise.

“We still need more staff,” Hays added. “It’s always a challenge recruiting, but we’ve had competition before. Some have joined Barrhead, I’m sure some have joined Tui. They’ve seen the opportunity.”

But Hays suggested there could be a “hiatus” in recruitment until the next wave of apprentices Hays hopes to offer full-time roles to. The agency, which is certified by Ofsted, recruited 177 apprentices last year.

“In three weeks we will have a number of apprentices coming to the end point of their assessments,” Hays explained. “That will be an opportunity for recruitment. It’s really important that we create these opportunities for young people.”

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