The shopworkers’ union Usdaw aims to secure as many jobs as possible under the retail merger between Thomas Cook and The Co-operative Travel.

Overlapping branches are set to close as part of the plan to create the UK’s largest agency chain with Cook’s chief executive Manny Fontenla Novoa saying hundreds of jobs could be at risk

Usdaw national officer Sharon Ainsworth said: “This will be a major change for our members but Usdaw is very positive about the venture and believes it will help secure the long term future of the Co- operative’s travel businesses and maintain their presence on the high street.

“I do not think the announcement will have come as a complete surprise to (our members] as they are fully aware of the challenges the travel industry has faced over the past few years.

“Usdaw will have full consultations with the Co-operative Group over the coming months and our key aim will be to secure as many jobs as possible and to support and represent our members throughout this period of change.”

The new joint venture is expected to start operations by Christmas subject to European Commission clearance.