Hays Travel’s acquisition of the ex-Thomas Cook retail network presents an opportunity for Aito operators to further extend their reach on the high street, Aito chairman Derek Moore has told TTG.
Moore said the creation of more than 500 new independent agencies was a potentially “big benefit” for Aito members, with Cook’s stores previously unable to sell product from the independent sector.
“The interesting thing is that with Hays now having 500 more shops, they are independent so a lot of the Cook staff who couldn’t sell independent travel before will now be able to,” said Moore.
“We will, of course, have to see what deals will be done between Hays and our members [but] the Hays situation is potentially a big benefit for them.”
On Cook’s collapse, Moore hailed the intervention of John and Irene Hays, who have now reopened more than 450 of Cook’s 555 stores under the Hays banner. “It was a good solution,” he said. “From a human point of view, it’s keeping Cook staff working.
“They didn’t do it out of a sense of Robin Hood-esque altruism, they saw a good business opportunity but you can’t fault them for that. I think it speaks a lot for the viability of independent travel agents.”
Moore added he hoped the move would bring the entire independent travel sector closer together. “John and Irene can sit over the breakfast table and ‘say let’s do this or that’,” said Moore.
“Independence isn’t to do with size, it’s business structure.”