Homeworking companies have seen increased interest from staff at The Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors amid uncertainty over the implications of the joint venture with Thomas Cook.

Travel Weekly has spoken to a number of homeworkers concerned their independence will be compromised by the merger, which has won provisional approval from the Competition Commission. Rival bosses have confirmed a rise in inquiries.

The homeworkers are also said to be seeking new jobs because the company no longer provides as many leads following the demise of Teletext’s analogue service. The group now requires agents to find more of their own clients.

Travel Counsellors reported a 60% rise in inquiries from all divisions of The Co-operative Travel and Thomas Cook since the merger was unveiled last October.

Managing director Steve Byrne said: “This merger means that many agents are facing uncertainty in their jobs, as well as having much of their independence taken away from them, as the business model will focus more on directional selling.

“As a result we are seeing a rise in inquiries from good agents who want to sell the right product for them and their customers. We expect to see more inquiries from these agents.”

Holiday Experts chief executive Sue Dennis, a former general manager of Future Travel’s media devision, said: “We have had quite a few homeworkers looking to move over. We haven’t taken any on yet, but will be launching a recruitment drive in February next year.”

However, Mike Greenacre, managing director of The Co-op Travel, said the number of homeworkers who had joined this year had risen by 58% while the number leaving was 22% down on last year. “The merger will provide exciting opportunities for many individuals,” he said.

An industry observer said: “Any independent homeworking businesses will do well from this.”