Thomas Cook’s retail director reassures trade of ‘business as usual’

The boss of Thomas Cook’s retail division has written to the company’s trade partners to assure them of “business as usual” following news of its proposed takeover by Chinese conglomerate Fosun.

Thomas Cook last week confirmed it was in “advanced discussions” with Fosun for a £750 million rescue deal that would see the company broken up.

The recapitalisation proposal would see Fosun, already an 18% shareholder, take control of Thomas Cook’s tour operating division and retail business, and a “significant minority interest” in the airline. It has been widely welcomed as a positive move for the industry.

Writing to trade partners on the day of the announcement, UK retail director Kathryn Darbandi said: “It is important that you understand what this means for your relationship with Thomas Cook. Importantly, Thomas Cook is here to stay.”

She added: “[The proposed deal] provides the means to secure the future of the Thomas Cook Group for its customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.”

And she confirmed: “In terms of what this means for you and your relationship with Thomas Cook, it is business as usual for you and our customers will not be affected by the proposal announced today.”

Darbandi said the investment would put both the tour operator and airline business on a “stable financial footing to invest and compete over the long term”, adding that Fosun had a proven track record of investing in travel businesses and would be a “good long-term owner for the business”.

She added: “Importantly, all our package holidays continue to be protected and customers have no need to be concerned. All Thomas Cook Group Airlines’ flights, including Condor, are also unaffected by today’s news and will continue to operate as normal.”

Shares in Thomas Cook have slumped by more than 80% over the past 12 months amid fears that a £1.6 billion debt mountain could threaten its survival.

It had put its airline up for a strategic review, which has now been paused pending the outcome of the recapitalisation.

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