The union representing Thomas Cook’s retail staff says it is encouraged by talks with the operator over the future of its high street stores.
The TSSA sought reassurances from Cook following a “preliminary approach” for Cook’s tour operator business from its largest shareholder, Fosun.
Cook confirmed the approach on Monday (10 June) following speculation in the consumer press Fosun could look to break up the business.
Cook’s retail network, along with its airline and Money division, has been under review since March as the full extent of Cook’s financial troubles became apparent following the winter.
It is currently proposing to close a further 21 end-of-lease retail stores, placing more than 300 roles at risk, which would trim its store network to around 550 outlets.
Earlier this week, the TSSA demanded clarity from Cook on Fosun’s approach and what it could mean for retail stores and employees.
However, general-secretary Manuel Cortes on Thursday (13 June) said he had emerged from talks with Cook this week “encouraged”.
“We have had several discussions with Thomas Cook over the past few days and it’s fair to say reassuring noises have been made on the question of potential job losses,” said Cortes.
“I’m pleased to say we will continue holding regular discussions with the company and will update our members as required. Their futures are our number-one priority.
“Thomas Cook is a cornerstone of our high streets and we hope, sooner rather than later, to see this institution put on a sound financial footing once again for the good of all concerned.
“Of course, the ongoing uncertainty at Thomas Cook is unsettling for our members and we urge all employees to join our union, as this is the best and only way to protect themselves.”
After the TSSA initially complained of a lack of detail about Fosun’s bid, and said it would resist any efforts to “break up” the company, a Cook spokesperson said: “We’re always happy to speak to the TSSA, as we are with any of the unions we have a relationship with.”
Thomas Cook chief executive told TTG last week a review of the operator’s retail network was ongoing, and the business would continue to review the profitability of stores approaching the end of their leases.