Rival bedbanks have welcomed the news that Thomas Cook has bought hotels4u.com for £21.8 million.

On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said the consolidation had been inevitable as the accommodation-only sector begins to reach critical mass with the amount of stock they offer while the dynamic packaging market remains a lucrative one traditional operators are yet to fully penetrate.

He added: “The move by Thomas Cook to buy hotels4u.com is not a surprise, since Thomas Cook clearly wants to move into the dynamic packaging sector and has found this much harder to do internally than they imagined.

“Other parties are also showing great interest in the sector and On Holiday Group would not be surprised if further market consolidation or acquisitions occurred. Bed banks such as On Holiday Group’s with the required critical mass to operate profitably in a high competitive market, are highly valuable to a number of potential suitors.

“On Holiday Group being privately controlled by the management, have the option to be consolidators or to be consolidated. However, we feel no pressure to do either at this moment in time.”

Youtravel.com chief executive John Kent added: “I would like to congratulate my good friends Haim Perry and Jacky Bedlow who have worked so hard over the past four years to build this great business. I’m very happy for them.

“I’d also like to congratulate Manny and the team at Thomas Cook on this acquisition. As the one who invented the resort accommodation-only sector with medhotels.com I am gratified to see the big boys taking it seriously and realising that this model is the future.

“Strategically for Youtravel.com this announcement means that we will be redoubling our efforts to increase our customer base and work even more closely with our trade partners.

“With the continuing strong support from our investors Barclays Ventures we intend to consolidate our position and be the number one player in the accommodation-only market across Europe.”