Hays Travel, a UK-based independent travel agency, reports that it has acquired all of the former Thomas Cook storefronts in the UK. Thomas Cook, an iconic UK-based travel brand, had filed for insolvency late last month, stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers abroad and prompting the UK’s largest repatriation effort since WWII.
Hays Travel said it has recruited over 400 former Thomas Cook employees, and as a result it can begin to reopen Thomas Cook stores, in their new Hays livery. “We aim to open as many as we logistically can as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement announcing the decision.
Those interested in applying for jobs, including former Thomas Cook employees, can call 0800-215-5995 or visit www.haystravel.co.uk/careers.
Hays Travel says that it is the UK’s largest independent travel agency, posting an annual turnover of more than £1 billion and employing over 1,700 people. It also runs the Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel retailers, providing buying power and technology and back office solutions.
According to Nick Wyatt, head of R&A, travel and tourism at data and analytics company GlobalData, has potential, as Hays will be able to operate the new locations without the heavy debt Thomas Cook suffered, which was one of the many factors that led to its collapse.
“Much will depend on the terms of the deal. As this is breaking news, we don’t yet know the cost of the deal, what terms can be agreed with landlords for example, but this was most certainly a buyer’s market situation so Hays should have been able to negotiate favorable terms,” Wyatt said. “Thomas Cook’s demise was the result of a multitude of factors, but at the core was a mountain of debt that was just too costly to service. Group revenue was £9.6 billion for FY2018, so there is still demand for some of the company’s services.”
Wyatt said that Hays should be able to operate without the Thomas Cook debt, and that the publicity surrounding that company’s collapse could prompt even more travelers to seek out travel packages protected by ATOL, the UK’s packaged travel protection program.
“The deal is not however, without peril,” Wyatt said. “It will have to conduct a review of store locations and operations and there may be a need for a rationalization at some point, particularly in areas in which Hays already has a strong presence. Hays will also need to make sure it invests in digital trends as competitive online threats to a large store network are legion.”