Hays travel is to acquire Thomas Cook’s entire retail estate.
The agreement will see Hays Travel acquire a total of 555 stores around the UK, providing re-employment opportunities for up to 2,500 former staff who were made redundant following the collapse of the travel giant on September 23.
More than 100 new jobs will be based at the company’s Sunderland headquarters with the rest in shops across the UK.
Hays Travel has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff and has further offers outstanding to former employees.
The deal will take Hays’ shop network to 745.
Hays signed a deal with the Official Receiver and liquidators KPMG today.
Earlier on Wednesday it was understood Barrhead Travel, Midcounties Co-operative, Millington Travel, Polka Dot Travel and Miles Morgan Travel were also among retailers to have lodged bids with the liquidators of Thomas Cook for its former stores.
Chair Irene Hays said: “Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand and a pillar of the UK and the global travel industry. We will build on the good things Thomas Cook had – not least its people – and that will put us in even better stead for the future.
“We all share a passion for the travel industry and we want to continue to build the company’s reputation for first class service and being a great place to work and develop a career.”
Managing director John Hays said: “Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help.
“In the last two weeks we have already employed or offered jobs to around 600 former Thomas Cook colleagues, and it has been a very emotional experience for them. Now that we are able to re-open the shops, we are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry, into our family business.
“I’m very proud of the fantastic team who have helped me build Hays Travel over almost 40 years and they have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to bring this about. It is a game-changer for us, almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce – and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people.”
David Chapman, official receiver, said: “I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement with Hays Travel to acquire Thomas Cook’s entire UK retail estate, comprising 555 stores across the country. This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company’s assets.”
Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG and joint special manager of Thomas Cook’s Retail division, said: “This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement. It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees, and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street. We are pleased to have achieved this in a short time frame and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties.
“Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate.”
Hays has been operating for 40 years and reached sales of more than £1bn in 2018.
The team supporting Hays in the deal included lawyers Muckle LLP, financial advisers White Hart Associates and property consultants Identity Consult.
The union representing Thomas Cook retail staff welcomed the deal and said it is seeking an “urgent meeting with Hays”.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We have been clear from the start that Thomas Cook was a strong brand and that it was likely parts of the business would be able to move forward as a going concern.
“Throughout the industry the talent, commitment and skills of our members working for Thomas Cook was well known and I have no doubt they will bring the same dedication to Hays.”