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New owners for Shropshire's former Thomas Cook stores

The reprieve granted to Shropshire’s three former Thomas Cook stores has taken business analysts by surprise.

Hays Travel announced today that it is to acquire 555 stores from the official receiver, following the collapse of Thomas Cook – including sites in Telford, Shrewsbury and Whitchurch.

It means that many of the former Thomas Cook staff in Shropshire could now be re-employed by the new owners.

Nick Wyatt, head of R&A, travel and tourism at GlobalData, the data and analytics company, said: “Not many of us saw this deal coming but it is welcomed news for the high street.

“It is a bold move on Hays’ part, but Thomas Cook is a cherished brand with an established customer base and if Hays has negotiated well, the move may just pay off.

“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.

“Hays should be able to operate without the millstone of debt round its neck and the publicity around the Thomas Cook collapse may even spur people to seek out Atol protected package holidays for peace of mind, which will play into Hays’ hands.

“The deal is not however, without peril. 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.”

Thomas Cook – Britain’s oldest tour operator - collapsed in September after the firm failed to find a £200 million cash injection. Around 22,000 people lost their jobs, including 9,000 in the UK.

John and Irene Hays, managing director and chairman of Sunderland-based of Hays Travel, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them."

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