Egypt's political turmoil took a hit on Thomas Cook's first half results, losing over a quarter of a million would-be travellers.
But chief executive Harriet Green maintained a sunny outlook for the rest of the year, as Cook — which almost collapsed in 2011 — trimmed its pre-tax loss by 28 per cent to £366 million.
Still, unrest in Egypt, where Cook was flying 250,000 passengers a year before its crisis but only had 5000 at its pools this Easter, sliced £131 million off revenues and £14 million off profit in the first half.
There’s no end in sight: Green warned “until elections and a new structural stability in Egypt, it won’t be top of the pops. But this summer, Greece is strongly back, Italy has seen a resurgence as has the city break, with Paris, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Rome and Venice all popular”.
Green wants to save another £460 million by 2015, but ruled out more High Street closures.
“All our shops are contributing well,” she said. “The stores are now more etail than retail, with iPads, Google maps so you can see exactly in Venezuela where you’re booking, and better digital connections.”
Online bookings jumped 39 per cent to £3 billion in the first six months, with £500 million of those made via smartphones and tablets.
Green said she is holidaying in New York to celebrate her wedding anniversary, spending a weekend in Istanbul and then flying to Thailand in the coming months.
This week she won the Veuve Clicquot businesswoman of the year award, but brushed off the prize’s curse. Past winners, including Sophie Mirman of Sock Shop and Debbie Moore, founder of Pineapple Dance Studios, were forced to resign after disastrous corporate results.
“Today we’re announcing strong, strategic progress, so hopefully that curse is all apocryphal,” she said.