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Jobs saved as Hays Travel buys Suffolk Thomas Cook stores

PUBLISHED: 10:48 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:48 09 October 2019

Hays Travel has bought out Thomas Cook's entire retail estate,  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN /PA

Hays Travel has bought out Thomas Cook's entire retail estate, Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN /PA

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Suffolk jobs could be saved after the UK's largest independent travel agent acquired Thomas Cook's entire retail estate.

The closed Thomas Cook travel agency on Sudbury's North StreetThe closed Thomas Cook travel agency on Sudbury's North Street

Hays Travel has announced it will take over 555 former Thomas Cook sites, including all Suffolk branches.

The agreement will also provide re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former employees and is a huge leap for Hays which currently has 190 shops across the country.

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The firm has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook employees and this latest move could provide as many as 2,500 jobs for former employees.

Before its collapse last month Thomas Cook operated from a number of high street locations across the county, including Ipswich, Sudbury, Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds.

People walk past the Thomas Cook store in Ipswich Town Centre  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPeople walk past the Thomas Cook store in Ipswich Town Centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The official receiver and special managers from KPMG were appointed to head up the travel giant's liquidation and have said the deal represents an important milestone in the process.

David Chapman, official receiver, said: "I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement with Hays Travel to acquire Thomas Cook's entire UK retail estate, comprising 555 stores across the country.

"This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company's assets."

Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG, added: "This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement. It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees, and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street.

Thomas Cook has collapsed  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThomas Cook has collapsed Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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"We are pleased to have achieved this in a short time frame and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties.

"Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate."

Along with Hays Travel the company also runs the Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel agents, and Just Go Travel.

John and Irene Hays, managing director and group chair, added: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them."

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