Hays Travel will “definitely” open all 555 former Thomas Cook shops in the coming days, boss John Hays has vowed.
Hays’ move for Cook’s entire retail network was warmly welcomed last week, with terms struck just 24 hours after the deadline for bids closed – scuppering some independents’ plans to take over Cook shops in their local areas.
Founder John Hays though was unapologetic: “It was a really good deal for the government,” he said. “The fact we could take all the shops was really appealing. Others could have bid for all of them the way we did.”
The deal guarantees jobs for former Cook staff in the near future. “We are definitely opening all the shops,” said Hays. “We’ve paid the rent for all of them at least until 24 December, and we are trying to get leases for all of them as well – that is a sign of [our] commitment.”
Hays has a nine-month “licence to occupy” period in which it can negotiate lease extensions. And while Hays admitted there would be duplication in some areas, he said it was “far too early to know” what would happen with these shops.
He added that while there was an opportunity to grow Hays’ in-house tour operation, the firm “was not interested in the Thomas Cook name”.