SUNDERLAND-based Hays Travel will buy all 555 Thomas Cook branches, in a buy-out that could save up to 2,500 jobs across the UK.
The country’s biggest independent travel agent announced they are buying the shops from the Official Receiver, which was appointed after Thomas Cook collapsed last month.
Owner, John Hays, said he planned to reopen and rename the shops as soon as possible.
He had already offered jobs to 600 former Thomas Cook staff and announced that he plans to hire more as part of the company’s expansion plans.
The company, which was set-up by John and his wife in 1979, already has 190 travel shops across the UK.
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”.
Hays already employs 1,900 staff and reported profits of £10m last year. The price of the Thomas Cook deal has yet to be announced.
Irene Hays, chair of Hays, said: “We will build on the good things Thomas Cook had – not least its people – and that will put us in even better stead for the future”
Over 100 of the new jobs will be based at the company’s recently-expanded Sunderland headquarters, with the rest in branches across the UK.
On social media this morning, the company asked former Thomas Cook staff to come forward and said they are aiming to reopen the stores ‘as soon as possible.’
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom told the BBC that she hoped the deal “will provide significant re-employment opportunities for former Thomas Cook employees, alongside the advice and support we will continue to provide to help people find a new job as quickly as possible.”
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