Hays Travel’s former Thomas Cook branches generated £1 million in business with Jet2 in their first few days of operation.
It came after Westminster’s inquiry into the collapse of Cook revealed Hays had paid “just over £6 million” for Cook’s network of 555 shops, equating to about £11,000 per branch.
While owner John Hays wouldn’t be drawn on financial details, he did reveal that as of Thursday (24 October) 350 of the former Cook stores were open and were continuing to be “rolled out really fast”. A total of 2,000 Cook staff had been recruited.
“We’re having to do some temporary things to get them open, like buying 4G broadband routers.
We’re also using packs of signage with very clear Hays Travel branding that we’re putting in the windows.”
He added the new shops were “trading better than expected”.
“During the first few days we did £1 million in sales with Jet2, just from the new ones – they couldn’t sell Jet2 before.”
Dean Beale, chief executive of the Insolvency Service, revealed the £6 million figure during the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee inquiry, which has been taking place in London.
He added selling to Hays was the “best deal on the table” and a good price for creditors, adding there were some leases of “little or no value” in the retail estate.
Beale further added the Official Receiver’s legal advisors were “examining contracts with the directors” to potentially get bonuses back from Cook bosses. These amounted to £20 million over Cook’s final five years.
Elsewhere during the inquiry, former Cook chief executive Harriet Green was quizzed about her expenses.
She highlighted she was paid less “than the previous male CEOs or indeed the CEO who came after” and her payment package was “risk-based”.
“I would be living away from home, travelling across Europe,” she said.
“I was very focused on the survival and development of Thomas Cook. The second year, I reduced those expenses by a third and I gave back a car allowance.”
While the collapse of Thomas Cook is undeniably a tragedy for many, it is interesting to see other firms start to fill the gap it’s left behind. Thomas Cook (and Tui) “switched off” Jet2holidays in 2017 – high street agents which had presumably previously been a sizeable sales channel for it. I’m sure Jet2 won’t be the only operator with a suddenly dramatically expanded bank of agents to work with.