Thomas Cook to axe 2,500 jobs and close 195 stores
Holiday firm Thomas Cook today announced it was planning to axe 2,500 jobs and close 195 branches.
The company, founded in Leicester in 1841, would not immediately say where store closures would take place.
Bosses said they would reveal more details later today after the affected staff had been told.
The group, which merged with Co-operative Group and Midlands Co-operative Society’s travel businesses in 2010, has 28 branches in Leicestershire.
It said 119 Co-op stores and 76 Thomas Cook sites would shut under the proposals.
The group, which currently employs 15,500 people in the UK, said the job cuts would include administrative and managerial roles at its head office in Peterborough.
Thomas Cook and Co-op branches are based close to each other in a number of locations in the county, including Leicester, Loughborough and Coalville.
A 90-day consultation will take place between management and the affected staff before any closures and redundancies are made.
Bosses said the move was part of a three-year plan to turn around the business, which in the past 18 months has been hit hard by the recession, changing consumer habits and the political unrest in North Africa.
A spokesman said: “The UK business needs to reduce cost to ensure back-office costs are not passed on to customers and that the necessary operational changes are made to reflect evolving customer needs and purchasing requirements.
“The company has 1,069 stores in the UK, making it the largest high street travel retailer. A number of these stores do not meet the performance targets of the business, and are in communities where Thomas Cook has more than one retail outlet.”
Sharon Ainsworth, national officer at the Usdaw union, which represents 1,200 staff at the two Co-op businesses, said: “We were well aware of the challenges that Thomas Cook have been facing in turning their UK business around, but the scale and severity of these redundancies will come as a real shock to our members.
“We will be using the 90-day consultation period to urge the business to look at every possible alternative to redundancy for these hardworking staff. Many of our members are long-serving and I believe they have a lot to offer Thomas Cook in helping the business to build a successful future.
“Even those who are not at risk of redundancy are facing the prospect of cuts to their benefits packages, following a number of cost-cutting proposals which the business has put forward. We will be examining these proposals closely and will defend our members’ interests throughout this uncertain time.”
Thomas Cook previously closed 200 branches in 2011 after suffering heavy financial losses which led to the resignation of long-standing chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa. He was replaced by Harriet Green.
The business was founded in 1841 by package holiday pioneer Thomas Cook, when he organised a train journey from Leicester to Loughborough to attend a temperance meeting.