Thomas Cook rival Hays Travel buys all its UK shops

LONDON (AFP) – British travel agent Hays Travel yesterday said it had agreed to buy all 555 UK stores from Thomas Cook after the holiday company’s collapse.

Hays has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff, a statement said.

“Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them,” said the independent travel agent’s founders, John and Irene Hays.

“The agreement will see Hays Travel acquire a total of 555 stores around the UK, providing re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former employees of Thomas Cook’s retail operations who were made redundant,” the statement added.

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

In total, around 600,000 customers were left stranded following the collapse of the 178 year-old company less than three weeks ago, including around 140,000 who had been due to return to Germany.

The company’s demise sparked 22,000 job losses worldwide.