Northern Ireland jobs 'could be saved' in Thomas Cook store purchase

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook

David Chapman, official receiver, said: "I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement with Hays Travel to acquire Thomas Cook's entire United Kingdom retail estate, comprising 555 stores across the country".

Thomas Cook collapsed on September 23, leaving around 150,000 passengers stranded overseas.

Hays has agreed to buy the entire high street portfolio of the broken travel firm from accountants managing the collapse, potentially saving the jobs of as many as 2,500 suited holiday bookers.

There were 9,000 staff in the United Kingdom who lost out when the company collapsed last month - prompting the country's biggest peacetime repatriation exercise to recover more than 150,000 holidaymakers stranded overseas.

"This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement", said Jim Tucker, a partner at KPMG and joint special manager of Thomas Cook's retail division.

Hays Travel said it was proposing to reopen the Thomas Cook stores with "immediate effect where possible and to take on up to 2,500 people".

Mr Tucker said the administrators would work with Hays to "ensure a smooth transition of the store estate".

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Hays has 1,900 staff and past year generated sales of £1bn.

Since then a number of airlines have announced vacancies for former Thomas Cook workers.

The agreement will also provide re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former employees and is a huge leap for Hays which now has 190 shops across the country.

Manuel Cortes, TSSA's general secretary, said it offered "real hope of reemployment to former Thomas Cook retail staff, many of whom are our members". "We are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry, into our family business".

It is not yet known if Thomas Cook stores in Plymouth, other parts of Devon and Cornwall will form part of the deal.

"We will now move swiftly to gather more details about the deal and are seeking an urgent meeting with Hays about the part our union can play in supporting what will be a significant expansion for them across our high streets".

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