Thomas Cook boss praise for progress firm has made

Thomas Cook boss praise for progress firm has made

Surviving a turbulent 2016 was a sign of just how far Thomas Cook has come in putting its financial troubles behind it, according to group chief executive Peter Fankhauser.

Speaking in London last night after the firm announced group summer 2017 sales are 10% up on last year, Fankhauser praised the work done by group chief financial officer Michael Healy.

Fankhauser took the top job at Cook in 2014 after former boss Harriet Green’s sudden exit.

She was credited with turning around the fortunes of the firm after a disastrous period in 2011 and 2012 when its shares price crashed after it was forced to ask for a £200 million bank bail out.

Fankhauser said: “We have come a long way since 2011. We’ve financially restructured. Michael has taken all the levers to put us on a sound financial base.

“We’re much stronger and more resilient. We have had two years of consecutive net profit.

“Last year, we could even pay a dividend. I admit a modest one but this gives us confidence our strategy is working.

“We have a long way to go to take down our debt burden but the first branch is paid back and seven million paid out to shareholders‎ as a warm thank you for their loyalty.”

Fankhauser added: “Probably the biggest progress is that we survived 2016 which was a turbulent year.

“In my 28 years of travel experience, I have never experienced disruption like 2016 but we acted fast. We were really prepared.

“We rescheduled about a million seats out of Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. We were capable of doing that operationally, and we were capable to adapt to external disruption and that makes me very proud.

“This disruption has now become the normal way of life, as we saw last week in Westminster.

“But we do the right things for our customers – like flying them out of Sharm el Sheikh and more recently The Gambia.”

Fankauser said this more customer-centric approach extended to all aspect s of its clients’ holidays and has forced Cook to make difficult decisions on product.

“Previously, we lost our way,” he admitted. “We forgot that Thomas Cook was here for our customers and that was the only reason that we were here.

“So we made a deliberate decision two years ago to put customers back at the heart of everything we do and we developed customer promises around quality, reliability and service that we have kept to. And we put our own hearts into these promises.

“We have a saying at Thomas Cook that we wear our customers’ flip flops – in other words, we put ourselves in the shoes of our holidaymakers.

“these are not just customer values hanging on the wall of a reception. These are genuine and they are inspiring to our 22,000 employees. They are all bought into it.

“We have made some bold decisions and we have inspired people to think differently.

“We introduced our 24-hour promise [to solve any problems in resort within 24 hours or offer holiday vouchers to the customer] and last season we gave out only 25 vouchers out of three and a half million customers.

“We have introduced an Academy of Excellence and we have taken out those hotels that just weren’t up to scratch.

“This was a bold decision but fully supported by me. You can still visit these hotels – but only with our competitors.

“Then we took it a step further and took these hotels out of our retailer too – so you can’t even buy them now from Thomas Cook anymore.”

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