Hays Travel Purchases Empty Thomas Cook Shops

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The independent travel agent is buying all 555 stores in a move which could save thousands of jobs.

Lancashire's Thomas Cook shops are set to reopen after an independent travel agent stepped in to save thousands of United Kingdom jobs.

There is new hope this morning for Thomas Cook staff who were left out of work by the collapse of the travel firm.

The Isle of Wight's only Thomas Cook branch closed in Newport last month.

Hays Travel has stores on the Island in Shanklin, Ryde and Newport.

More than 100 new jobs will be based at the company's Sunderland headquarters with the rest in shops across the UK.

Irene Hays, chair of Sunderland-based Hays, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand and a pillar of the United Kingdom and the global travel industry".

The company says it now intends to reopen the 555 shops immediately, potentially saving up to 2,500 further jobs.

Meanwhile, the company will consider the future of under-performing shops in places where Hays and Thomas Cook sites overlap.

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Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG, added: "This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement".

The 178-year-old travel company folded on September 23 after failing to secure a last-minute rescue deal.

Thomas Cook had around 600 stores on United Kingdom high streets.

Britain's government on Monday completed the country's biggest peacetime repatriation, returning 140,000 UK-based Thomas Cook customers stranded overseas by the company's bankruptcy.

"Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate".

"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", he said.

Since then the business has grown to more than 190 travel shops across the United Kingdom, employing about 1,900 staff with a turnover of more than £1bn past year.

"Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people", they said.

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