Andrew Monk, chief executive, VSA Capital
Four months ago I wrote that, sadly, I felt there was worse to come for Thomas Cook. I have now been proved to be correct.
Thomas Cook is teetering on the edge and now effectively in the hands of the banks. This becomes doubly scary when you realise that most of the banks are also teetering on the edge and in the hands of tax payers.
I have actually been negative on Thomas Cook for four years and the reason has been simple, they did the wrong deal.
As I have told my children over the years, two wrongs don’t make a right. They compiled this with the wrong management and the wrong strategy.
The world has moved on and everyone in every industry needs to review their strategy. Today, Thomas Cook has no choice but to review but from a position of weakness and it will be the banks reviewing not the company.
So can anything be saved or will it be allowed to collapse? I genuinely hope it will be saved as Thomas Cook has a proud heritage and it employs many very professional staff but for it not to fall some people need to wake up quickly.
The group needs to be broken up and then rebuilt. I have said many times before that Thomas Cook needs to go back to its roots and become an upmarket global adventurous travel firm.
High volume, low margin business should be sold (and the natural buyer is First Choice/Tui Travel or even a low cost carrier). The airline should be sold, and again, the same potential buyers spring to mind.
Making Thomas Cook work again needs a completely fresh team and rumours (and they were only rumours) that Kate Swann would join were a breath of fresh air.
And if she had been joined by her previous finance director at WH Smith, Alan Stewart, it would have been even better as he was, of course, chief executive at Thomas Cook before the Manny Era.
But Kate is happy where she is and Alan is now the financial director at Marks and Spencer, so unlikely to be tempted.
My advice is to find someone who is not steeped in the travel industry, who can think afresh and who is prepared to take pain before the gain and who has a long term vision.
A few years back Thomas Cook was a FTSE 100 company, today it has a market capitalisation of a mere £100 million, that is a major fall but also presents a major opportunity.
For an investor it still carries too much risk, but for an entrepreneur there is a challenge and big prize. Halloween was a few weeks back, but this is now a case of ‘trick or treat’ for Thomas Cook.
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