Celebrations as Burnley branch of collapsed Thomas Cook store re-opens its doors after take-over by rival firm

Heartbroken staff at a Burnley travel agents, who lost their jobs overnight after the collapse of holiday travel firm Thomas Cook, were celebrating today after their branch became the latest to be re-opened by rival company Hays Travel.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 11:20 am
John Hays, the owner of Hays Travel, who has pledged to re-open all the branches that closed when Thomas Cook collapsed, including branches in Burnley and Colne
John Hays, the owner of Hays Travel, who has pledged to re-open all the branches that closed when Thomas Cook collapsed, including branches in Burnley and Colne

And the team at the Chancery Walk branch have sent out a message of thanks to everyone who has supported them over the last few turbulent weeks.

A spokesman for the branch said: "We would like to thank every single customer who booked at Thomas Cook over the years and we hope to see you again soon at Hays Travel.

"Thank-you everyone also for all your kind messages and support over the last few weeks.

"We would not be able to do this without you and the whole team are excited to be back in business."

Hays have combined staff from the Chancery Walk and Curzon Street branches of the company as some of the original employees found other work.

Recruitment is now taking place for sales consultants to build a full team.

The spokesman added: "We will not be able to trade fully until we have our new computer systems but we would ask people to call in and say hello."

The Burnley store is just one of the 555 shops that Hays Travel stepped in to buy after Thomas Cook went under.

The Colne store in Market Street has also re-opened under the Hays banner.

In an unprecedented move, that could potentially save up to 2,500 jobs, Hays Travel, the UK's largest independent travel firm, struck a takeover deal with travel industry regulator the Civil Aviation Authority after several days of negotiations.

John Hays, who set up the Sunderland-based firm 40 years ago, said it was difficult to give 'cast iron guarantees' about every Thomas Cook shop as talks had to be held with individual landlords.

But the company boss said it was certainly their intention to take on all the staff and the new shops would be branded under the Hays name.

The business is thought to have a licence for six months to occupy Thomas Cook stores, giving Hays time to strike new deals with landlords.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, is a significant step for Hays, which has 190 shops, 1,900 staff, and last year had sales of £379m, reporting profits of £10m.

When Thomas Cook collapsed last month, after crisis talks to save it failed, around 22,000 people lost their jobs worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK.

It also sparked the biggest ever peacetime repatriation by the Civil Aviation Authority to bring more than 150,000 British holidaymakers back to the UK.