Thomas Cook stores sold to Hays Travel

Hays Travel reassures that its'flexible model will save Thomas Cook following its collapse in September. Image Chris Ratcliffe Bloomberg

Hays Travel, the United Kingdom booking agent that's buying 555 shops from Thomas Cook Group said the stores can turn profitable without the hefty airline costs that helped bring down the 178-year-old tour operator.

Hays Travel managing director John Hays said: "Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help".

It is the largest independent travel agent in the United Kingdom, with 1,900 employees and 190 shops.

Public and private partners worked together to host the event at Manchester Airport, where former Thomas Cook staff were provided with advice and information.

Founder John Hays said: "It is a game-changer for us, nearly trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce, and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people".

John and Irene Hays are aiming to give "as many as possible" their jobs back. Hays struck the deal for its shops with a court-appointed official receiver and special managers from KPMG.

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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.

He also confirmed the Thomas Cook brand would disappear from the British high street and will be replaced by Hays. "Now that we are able to re-open the shops, we are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry, into our family business", said Mr Hays.

The company also offered jobs to over 600 former Thomas Cook employees and offered to help all of the Thomas Cook apprentices to complete their training at the Ofsted accredited Hays Travel Academy.

"If high street shops use only traditional marketing I don't think they have a future", MD Hays said.

We have already recruited over 400 talented former Thomas Cook employees and we are ready to welcome many more of the retail branch staff.

The sign on the window of the Thomas Cook shop in Harrogate last month saying it had closed.

. It employs 1900 people and achieved a turnover of more than £1 billion last year, which saw the Hays share £1 million with its employees, who each received £100 for every year they had worked at the company.

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