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TRADE union TSSA has welcomed the announcement that all 555 Thomas Cook shops are to be bought by a rival company in a move that could possibly save 2,500 jobs.
Travel agent Hays Travel announced today that it intends to buy all of the tour firm’s shops from the Official Receiver.
The independent travel agent, which already operates 190 travel shops across Britain, is to reopen the shops with immediate effect once it finalises the buyout.
Hays has already employed 421 former Thomas Cook staff since the travel group went out of business last month.
The company now intends to reopen the shops immediately, potentially saving up to 2,500 further jobs.
The Official Receiver is expected to allow Hayes a licence to take over Thomas Cook stores so that price renegotiations may commence with property landlords.
Thomas Cook, which was the world’s oldest travel firm, collapsed at the end of last month, putting 9,000 jobs in Britain at risk.
A subsequent emergency operation by the Civil Aviation Authority to repatriate 150,000 stranded British civilians became the largest peacetime operation in British aerial history.
Hays said it has already offered jobs to 600 Thomas Cook staff and plans to hire more as part of a rapid expansion.
More than 100 of these new jobs will be at the firm’s headquarters in Sunderland.
Hays managing director John Hays said: “It is a game-changer for us, almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce – and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people.”
The TSSA union, which represents Thomas Cook’s retail and head office staff, said it is seeking urgent talks with Hays to figure out how the union can help with the “significant expansion.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This is very welcome news offering real hope of re-employment to former Thomas Cook retail staff, many of whom are our members.
“We have been clear from the start that Thomas Cook was a strong brand and that it was likely parts of the business would be able to move forward as a going concern.
“Throughout the industry the talent, commitment and skills of our members working for Thomas Cook was well known and I have no doubt they will bring the same dedication to Hays.“
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey MP said: “While Thomas Cook store workers will breathe a sigh of relief, there are serious questions to be answered over why the company was allowed to collapse when it could have been saved.
“There must be a full public inquiry into the government’s handling of this scandal.”
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