Thomas Cook has announced plans to close 27 shops and the scrapping of cluster manager roles putting 210 jobs at risk of redundancy.

As part of a nation-wide shake-up in how stores are managed the travel giant will create 360 new store manager roles.

The move will see cluster managers replaced by dedicated store managers nationally, after a successful introduction in six regions of the UK last year.

Cook said its reduced high street retail footprint means dedicated store managers were now better suited to its “omni-channel” approach.

If approved, the closure of a further 27 stores, following an announcement in December that 50 would close putting 400 jobs a risk, would take Cook’s total number down to 601 by May.

In April 2017 Cook also announced the closure of 17 stores and the loss of 62 jobs.

That means that in five years Cook has more than halved its store numbers which stood at 1,300 when it agreed a retail joint-venture with The Co-operative Travel.

The stores proposed to close are mainly Co-op stores that are either in close proximity to other stores in a town, or located where there is a decline in footfall.

Today’s announcement of further closures coincides with Cook moving towards a single brand on the high street ahead of the deadline to remove the Co-op brand by November.

Last year Cook opted not to continue with the joint-venture after the original five year time period had elapsed meaning it has to phase out the Co-op brand.

As part of this process, 113 Co-operative Travel stores have already been rebranded as Thomas Cook, and are seeing increased sales, Cook said.

The latest retail manager restructure “provides opportunities for cluster managers to apply for dedicated store manager roles, and enable assistant managers and customer service managers who want to develop their careers to also apply for dedicated store manager positions”, added Cook.

Cluster managers were first introduced in 2013 but Cook said the scrapping of these in six regions last September had seen improved performance in those areas.

Kathryn Darbandi, Cook UK director of retail and customer experience, said: “Our management team plays a critical role in the success of our stores across the UK and Northern Ireland.

“By proposing these new roles we would be creating exciting opportunities for both existing and aspiring managers. We are confident that we would retain the expertise of as many of our colleagues as possible.”

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