October 11, 2019 @ 15:41 by Steven Hugill
More than 1200 former Thomas Cook staff are back in work after a North East travel operator salvaged the collapsed firm’s store estate.
Sunderland-headquartered Hays Travel says 1210 people are now “on the books with more offers and contracts going out by the hour,” following its swoop for Thomas Cook’s 555 shops.
The independent company confirmed its deal for the stores earlier this week, saying the “game changer” move has the potential to save up to 2500 holiday industry jobs.
According to an update from the firm released today (Friday, October 11), a number of former Thomas Cook bases have now re-opened across Northumberland, Teesside, Tyne and Wear, Darlington and Yorkshire.
Further afield, the company says staff in stores across Wales have also begun pulling up the shutters, with 20 high street outlets in Northern Ireland operational again.
In the latter, bosses say 79 members of staff have so far been recruited, with a further 50 jobs to be filled.
John Hays, owner and managing director of Hays Travel, said: “I’m very proud of the fantastic team who have helped me build Hays Travel over almost 40 years and they have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to bring this about.
“It is a game-changer for us – almost 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.
“We are delighted to have a presence in Northern Ireland for the first time.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us and we can’t wait to meet everyone soon.”
John added the company hopes to take on as many of the 2500 former Thomas Cook retail employees as possible in the coming weeks.
Hays Travel is the country’s largest independent travel agent.
It also runs the Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel agents, in addition to operating a subsidiary business, Just Go Travel, which trades under the Hays Travel brand predominantly across the North West.
The Sunderland-based company, which can trace its roots back to a store in Seaham, County Durham, reached sales of more than £1 billion in 2018 and celebrated by sharing £1 million with its 1900 employees, who each received £100 for every year they’d worked at the business.