EXPIRING shop leases will offer Thomas Cook the opportunity to move more of its business online in coming years.

Chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa has revealed two-thirds of property leases on the company’s 600-strong shop network will expire over the next three years.

The operator will invest heavily in its remaining high-street stores but is also increasing its online marketing budget by 85% and is about to launch a revamped Thomascook.com.

Fontenla-Novoa admitted: “The best place to buy a holiday is online as we all have price advantages.”

He added: “I do not know how many shops we will have in two to three years’ time, although I would expect the number to decline.”

Fontenla-Novoa predicted the number of high-street travel agents will decrease from around 6,100 to between 5,300 and 5,500 over the next few years.

Meanwhile, rival Thomson said large-scale shop closures are not planned for its network. Sales and marketing director Miles Morgan said: “You are not going to see a Going Places-style closure with Thomson.”