Thomas Cook axes 2,500 jobs as it closes 195 high street travel agencies

 

The struggling tour giant Thomas Cook today slashed 2,500 jobs and unveiled plans to close nearly 200 high street travel agents.

The 170 year-old firm - which takes 6 million people in the UK on holiday every year - revealed the news to shocked staff this morning.

The job cuts amount to one in six of its 15,500 workforce in the UK & Ireland. Around 1,600 jobs will be cut in its travel agents as 195 stores close, leaving it with 874 outlets. The remaining 900 jobs will go in head office roles.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association, which represents employees, said it was “shocked and angry” at the scale of the job losses. General secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This constant policy of slash and burn, with the axing of one in four stores and the loss of jobs, is simply self-defeating.”

But management said the cuts were needed to restore the health of the operator, which slipped to a £590 million loss in its last financial year.

An ill-timed swoop for the Co-operative’s travel business left the company with too many UK travel agents and in November 2011 it was forced to turn to its lenders for an extra £200 million in funding.

Thomas Cook’s UK and European chief Peter Fankhauser said: “It is never easy to make decisions that impact directly on our people, but we also owe it to our customers to operate efficiently and ensure that when they book their holiday with us our administrative costs are as low as possible.”

Mr Fankhauser said Thomas Cook was planning to open its travel agencies on bank holidays and Sundays, while also potentially extending opening hours during the week in an effort to meet customer demand.

Stores will likewise be better staffed in peak trading times, such as lunch hours.

But he confirmed this will mean changes in working patterns for many of its retail staff.

Thomas Cook insisted it would maintain a "strong presence on the high street", adding that the stores being earmarked for closure did not meet performance targets or were in areas where the group has more than one retail outlet.

Many of the stores being closed are Co-operative Travel stores after Thomas Cook and Co-op merged their high street businesses in 2011.

Thomas Cook has already axed more than 1,100 jobs over the past year, including around 250 retail staff.

It also said today it planned to change staff terms and conditions for remaining workers.

Sharon Ainsworth, national officer of Usdaw, said: "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."

Thomas Cook's group-wide boss Harriet Green, who joined the company as chief executive from electronics firm Premier Farnell last year, has been leading a turnaround plan at ThomasCook.

She announced aims to cut a further £100 million in costs last November, with £40 million coming from its airline business and an extra £35 million being saved by stripping out "duplication" in its structure.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before