Thomas Cook will formally make up to 2,500 staff redundant over the next month as a 90-day consultation with those affected ends this week.

UK chief executive Peter Fankhauser said: “We’ve had to make hard decisions with colleagues. It is hard making 2,500 redundancies, but it was the right decision.”

The company will close 195 shops. Fankhauser told the ITT conference: “This is common sense. In some cases we had two shops with the same post code. But I want to make clear I’m committed to the high street.”

He insisted the UK company restructure was not just about job cuts and said staff had “embraced” the changes.

Fankhauser said: “It’s hard work because it affects our colleagues. But if you start at the top you have credibility. I’ve been amazed by the way people embraced the fundamental review we conducted.

“Every brand had its own marketing director and marketing budget. If it’s one business, you have one marketing director.

“We took out a lot of costs by building one leisure airline for the UK, Belgium and Germany. We are really doing things more efficiently.”

Fankhauser added: “This is not about working in isolation. I want to thank our trade partners.”

He dismissed a suggestion that Cook had based its exclusive-product strategy on that of Tui Travel.

Fankhauser said: “It’s not rocket science. In Germany we were going down that route. The difference in Germany was that we launched our [exclusive] brands as international brands. We are not a long way behind.”

He added: “The German story is a real success story. We are number two [in the market], not the biggest but the most profitable. Our intention is to go that way in the UK.”

Referring to the company’s promise of price parity online and in shops, he insisted: “We are setting the pace and not following our competitors.”