Express & Star

Hope for staff as Thomas Cook stores are bought by rival

One of the UK's largest travel agents has said it will save thousands of jobs at Thomas Cook after a deal to buy 555 of the company's stores.

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All 555 Thomas Cook stores are being bought by rival Hays Travel

The deal, which includes stores in the Black Country and Staffordshire, could save up to 2,500 jobs.

Thomas Cook has branches in Cannock, Merry Hill, Oldbury, Stafford, Stourbridge, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Hays Travel has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff and has offered employment to more of the airline's personnel.

The company now intends to reopen the shops immediately, potentially saving up to 2,500 further jobs.

"This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement," said Jim Tucker, a KPMG partner who was appointed joint special manager of Thomas Cook's retail division after the failure.

"It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees, and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street."

The 178-year-old travel company folded on September 23 after failing to secure a last-minute rescue deal.

The news left around 150,000 passengers stranded abroad, the last of whom were returned to the UK on Monday.

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

Mr Tucker said the administrators would work with Hays to "ensure a smooth transition of the store estate".

He added: "We are pleased to have achieved this in a short timeframe and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties."