Thomas Cook tight-lipped about store closure plans
Thomas Cook has declined to reveal which branches are facing the axe as the struggling travel agent plans to shed 2,500 jobs.
A 90-day consultation has begun with staff and unions over proposals to close 195 high street stores, leaving it with 874 outlets across Britain.
Thomas Cook’s branches in Devon include stores in Exeter, Exmouth, Newton Abbot and Okehampton.
A company spokeswoman said she was unable to confirm which stores are set to close as staff are being informed throughout the day.
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The company has 1,069 stores in the UK and employs 15,500 people, making it the largest high street travel retailer.
It said: “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. This consultation aims to address excess capacity.”
Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook UK & Ireland’s CEO, said: “It is never easy to make decisions that impact directly on our people, but we also owe it to our customers to shape the business effectively and ensure that, when they book their holiday with us, our administrative costs are as low as possible.
“Even after these changes we will still have one of the largest retail networks in UK travel.
“It is essential that we operate with the right number of people as we move forward into the next era for our company.
“We are in consultation with our unions and employee representative bodies to minimise the impact of these changes and I am speaking personally to all employees today to provide information and support through this period of consultation.”
Sharon Ainsworth, national officer at shopworkers’ union Usdaw, 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.
“We will be doing all we can to support all of our members during the difficult weeks and months ahead.”