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Deal shows high street 'not dead yet'

But some retail analysts have raised some doubts about how Hays’ move might play out.

 

Julie Palmer, Begbies Traynor’s restructuring partner, said: “While this looks like a savvy deal, you have to wonder what Hays’ plan is and how they can make it a success.

 

"Has the travel firm been gung-ho in trying to secure a cheap deal without assessing the viability of taking on these stores?"

 

Nick Cooper, head of insights and analytics at branding consultancy Landor, said Hays had "reasons to be optimistic", even though the deal "represents a real commercial risk".

 

“It is set to become the dominant player in the retail travel sector, providing an opportunity to establish Hays as its leading light,” said Cooper.

 

“While scale is no guarantee of success, it can certainly drive brand awareness. The high street may be dying, but it’s not dead yet – the historic performance of Hays suggests they know how to run a retail travel business.

 

“John and Irene Hays have set themselves a challenge, not least by rebranding everything to Hays.

 

"By removing a famous, industry-leading brand, albeit a now damaged one, and replacing it with one that has regional traction but no national recognition, creates a significant – and difficult – task.”

It’s the feel-good story we’ve all been hoping for ever since Cook collapsed last month. When John and Irene Hays’ beaming smiles first lit up the lunchtime, then the six o’clock and then the ten o’clock news bulletins on Wednesday, it felt like the whole nation was right behind them. Cook’s demise has caused our sector untold pain, but this dramatic vote of confidence in the high street is an important step on the road to recovery.

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