Thomas Cook has snapped up hotel booking website Hotels4U.com for £21.8m.
Hotels4U's managing director Haim Perry, who founded the company in 2003, will stay on after agreeing to reinvest some of the sale proceeds.
Hotels4U.com supplies accommodation to the British travel industry and acts as an online booking agent for hotels, apartments and villas. "As a business we now have access to the international markets that Thomas Cook is present in, and therefore the opportunity for further growth," Mr Perry said.
The news came as Thomas Cook reported encouraging levels of demand, with no signs that that consumers were cutting back on foreign trips. Despite the economic downturn, the tour operator said European holidaymakers continued to place a high priority on overseas travel.
Thomas Cook, which merged with MyTravel last year, said cost savings from the deal and improved margins meant its operating losses for the two months to the end of December fell by 27 per cent to €106.8m (£79.4m). The enlarged company has closed 144 shops in the UK, leaving an estate of 812 – mostly Thomas Cook – stores. The company has established its UK headquarters in Peterborough after a number of regional offices were closed.