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Tough times for Cook

Tough times for Cook

Cook’s tour operating division saw its profits drop £88 million for the year to September 30, which the company blamed on having to discount in the “lates” market.

 

Fankhauser has already vowed that addressing the performance of its UK tour operator is one of Cook’s key priorities for 2019.

 

The operator's share prices remained volatile on Thursday (December 6) despite rebounding after halving during the week previous from around 48.5p to 24.1p, hitting a low of 19.6p on Tuesday (December 4).

 

Its troubles in the UK became apparent after the summer when Cook on September 24 issued the first of two profit warnings, revising its its full-year profit forecast down from £323 million to £280 million following the summer heatwave, sending its shares tumbling 25%.

 

The second came late last month warning tour operator revenue was down £88 million, impacted by discounting in the lates market. The group said UK results had been particularly disappointing”.

 

Potential remedies, said Cook, included selling more of its financial products like insurance and foreign exchange through its retail stores and focusing on its own-brand hotels.

 

Meanwhile, Cook has come in for criticism from independent travel agents after launching a price review earlier this year they said was "pricing independents out of the market".

 

Travel consultants told TTG they had abandoned potential Cook sales after changes in pricing, which would have led to them losing money.

 

One revealed they had given away “about £2,000” commission in discounts to secure sales since the review began.

 

Speaking to TTG at the Freedom Travel Group conference in Lapland this week, Cook's new sales and e-commerce director Phil Gardner said the operator would announce the outcome of its price trials before Christmas, while admitting the company had not initially been transparent with third party agents about the trial.

 

He added he was still optimistic of a "good peaks" for Cook this January, despite its troubles.

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