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Thomas Cook's 555 stores available for purchase by rival

  John and Irene Hays


John and Irene Hays started the business 40 years ago

All 555 Thomas Cook stores are to be purchased by rival Hays Travel in a move that can save up to 2,500 jobs.

The Independent Travel Agency buys the stores from the official recipient, which was appointed when Thomas Cook collapsed last month.

Sunderland-based Hays said it planned to open stores under its own brand with immediate effect.

Hays has already offered jobs to 600 Thomas Cook employees, and plans to hire more as part of the rapid expansion.

The move is an important step for Hays, which currently has 1[ads1]90 stores across the UK.

John Hays, who founded the company 40 years ago, said: "It's a game changer for us, almost tripling the number of stores we have and doubling our workforce – and for the industry, which will retain some of the most talented His people. "

He and his wife Irene own the business which has 1,900 employees and last year had sales of £ 379m, reporting profits of £ 10m.

The price of the deal was not announced.

Irene Hays, chair of Sunderland-based Hays, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand and pillar of the United Kingdom and the global travel industry.

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"We will build on the good things Thomas Cook had – not least the people – and it will set us even better in the future"

100 new jobs will be based at the company's headquarters in Sunderland, with the rest in stores across the UK.

The company has tweeted and encouraged former Thomas Cook employees to apply.

The company tells recruits that as a result of the deal "We can start opening Thomas Cook stores in their new Hays lifetime from today."

"We aim to open as many logistically as we can as soon as possible," it states.

Then Thomas Cook collapsed, postponing 22,000 jobs places worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK.

It also triggered the largest peacetime repatriation ever by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to bring more than 150,000 UK vacationers back to the UK. The latest flight to repatriate Thomas Cook customers landed at Manchester Airport on Monday.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said she hoped the agreement "will provide significant re-employment opportunities for former Thomas Cook employees, along with advice and support we will continue to help people find a new job as soon as possible . "

& # 39; We haven't been told anything & # 39;

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Samantha Kennedy, 34, from Alness, Scotland, worked on an Inverness branch for Thomas Cook for six years.

She told the BBC that her chat group WhatsApp had "gone crazy this morning since the media started reporting" the deal.

"We have not been told anything. My manager has not been told anything. It would be incredible if it were true," she said.

Samantha said she was sad the Thomas Cook brand had gone, but she loved working in the business.

"To continue working in the industry would be fantastic, and there aren't many travel shops in Inverness, so if Hays were to take over I think people would be happy."

& # 39; Contact landlords

Union Salaried Staffs & # 39; Association (TSSA), which had members in Thomas Cook stores around the UK and headquartered in Peterborough, welcomed the move.

Manuel Cortes, TSSA Secretary General, said it offered "real hope of unemployment to former Thomas Cook staff, many of whom are our members."

"We will now move quickly to gather more details about the deal and seek an urgent meeting with Hays on the part our union can play to support what will be a significant expansion for those ross High Streets," he added.

David Chapman, the official recipient, described the sale to Hays Travel as an "important step" in uncovering the economy of the 178-year-old chain.

The business is thought to have a six-month license to occupy Thomas Cook stores, giving Hays time to enter into new agreements with landlords.

What is Hays' plan?

Ian Bell, head of travel and tourism at accounting firm RSM, said it was a "sharp move" for Hays, but would also represent a quadrupling of its travel agency stores at a time when customers are increasingly booking vacations online.

"Much can depend on the offers that Hays can make with its new High Gate owners," Bell said.

When Hays bought the stores from the administrators, that means it will have bought them at a lower price than if Thomas Cook was still trading.

Julie Palmer, a partner in Begbies Traynor, said that Hays had been waiting for a "best price" for the stores.

However, she questioned the logic of the transaction at a time when customers were turning away from High Street agencies.

"You have to wonder what Hays' plan is and how they can make it a success.

" Has the travel agent tried to secure a cheap deal without considering the viability of taking on these stores? , "she asked.

Are you an employee of the Thomas Cook store? What is your response to the news? Email

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