The enlarged Thomas Cook Group will retain the Going Places name and keep the shops open so long as they are profitable.
Thomas Cook head Manny Fontenla-Novoa – who will be chief executive of the merged group that begins trading on Tuesday – told delegates at the Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) conference: “There will be an overlap between Thomas Cook and Going Places shops, but I don’t see it as a problem if we manage it properly and get the leases right.”
The group, formed by the merger of Thomas Cook and MyTravel, will have more than 1,000 UK outlets and Fontenla-Novoa said: “The Thomas Cook brand does not stretch across everything. If we have two shops in a town facing one another and they are both profitable, why call them both Thomas Cook?”
However, Going Places’ long-term survival remains in doubt. Advantage chief executive John McEwan said: “It’s pragmatic to keep two brands to retain customers. But over time it would be no surprise to move to Thomas Cook.”
MyTravel kept Going Places and Travelworld brands on the high street for four years before the latter was finally scrapped in December 2002.
TUI UK sales director Derek Jones said: “The Going Places and Thomas Cook brands are very close.”
TUI and First Choice aim to complete their own merger by October, and Jones said: “Our brands are quite different – there is less convergence.”
Some of the £95 million in projected annual savings from the Thomas Cook merger would come from the retail empire, but Fontenla-Novoa said: “We are looking to redeploy all staff in our shops.”
No decision has been taken on whether the brands will sell products of rivals TUI and First Choice at current levels – up to 100,000 holidays a year. It is likely in-house sales will be kept at 65% or above.
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