Thomas Cook Group today reported an “encouraging” start to summer 2017 bookings despite an overall 4% slump in sales for this year’s peak holiday period blamed on the volatile situation in Turkey.
Excluding Turkey, summer 2016 group-wide bookings were reported to be up by 8%, with growth driven by high volume destinations such as the Balearic and Canary islands and the US alongside smaller destinations such as Bulgaria and Cuba.
In a pre-close trading update, Cook said its full year profit guidance remained unchanged.
This summer’s bookings from the UK are slightly higher than last year, with average charter selling prices up by 2%. But overall UK average selling prices are down by 5% following planned growth in seat-only sales.
Winter 2016-17 bookings from the UK are up by 8% but with prices down by an average of 3%, again due to a higher mix of seat-only business.
“For summer 2017, we have seen an encouraging start to bookings, which are ahead across all source markets at this early stage, particularly Continental Europe and Northern Europe. Overall, average selling prices are ahead of last year,” Cook said.
“We continue to experience good demand for our holidays in the UK and Northern Europe, offset by weaker demand in Germany, particularly for Turkish destinations.
“Our expectations for full year underlying operating profit remain in line with previous guidance.
“The group is well positioned for future growth – we have a strong balance sheet, a resilient business model and a strategic focus on strengthening our holiday offering for the benefit of our customers.
Chief executive Peter Fankhauser, giving an overview ahead of full year results to September 30 being released on November 23, said: “The summer season has progressed largely as expected.
“Customers’ desire to go abroad on holiday has remained strong with the exception of Turkey where demand continues to be volatile.
“To date, sales for the winter season are in line with last year while sales so far for summer 2017 suggest that customers are booking early in an effort to secure their first-choice destination and hotel.
“We remain focused on ensuring that we have the right holidays available in the most popular destinations in order to meet changes in customer demand.
“At the same time, we continue to transform our business for profitable growth. We’ve taken big steps forward in recent months with the agreement of a new hotel sourcing partnership with Webjet and the launch of Thomas Cook China.
“However, we’re particularly proud of the improvements we’ve delivered in customer satisfaction thanks to the work we’ve done to strengthen the quality of our offering. We know that the increased loyalty we get from happier customers is key to driving the future success of our business.”
Cook set up an offshoot in China earlier this month in conjunction with partner, Chinese investment conglomerate and Club Med owner Fosun.