Emma: Mixed reaction to the Cook-Co-op merger

Emma Sanger, Future TravelThe news that The Co-operative Travel Group and Thomas Cook are to merge their retail stores came like a bolt from the blue.

This is one of the biggest changes the industry has seen for years and will affect me personally. As a homeworker for Future Travel, naturally my first concern is for my future.

The Co-operative Travel Group assures us that the vast majority of jobs will be protected. And these changes are the best way of securing a long-term future for both travel businesses.

There will, however, be some inevitable jobs losses with the merging of these two giant organisations, and I personally feel for those who may be affected.
The mood was mixed among many of my fellow Co-operative colleagues on Saturday onboard Queen Elizabeth for the pre-inaugural celebrations.

Some commented that the involvement of Thomas Cook, the originator of the package holiday with such a long history in the industry, could be nothing but positive.

Others feared that we would become just another vessel for selling Thomas Cook products. One said: “I left Cook because I felt limited in the brands that I could provide to my customers.”

Agents said that The Co-operative Travel Group was a family, where we could speak to anyone in the business about any issue by just picking up the phone. And this could potentially be lost in a bigger organisation.

Another said: “I have always considered myself an individual with a voice. I am not a just a faceless payroll number.”

Remember to stay positive

I feel it is important to remain positive as not all change is bad, and I am excited that Thomas Cook can see the potential for homeworking as being a crucial addition to its business.

Although the decision has been made, the merger is yet to be approved by the European Commission regulators. While they wade through the finer details, it is business as usual.

One positive sign is that when Thomas Cook bought other companies such as Club 18-30 and Neilson, it recognised them as being strong individual brands and it had the good sense to leave them alone.

 I would urge Manny to take a similar approach to the new business.

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