Thomas Cook has put 320 shop staff under consultation and announced plans to close 21 stores following a review of its retail performance.

Just under 220 sales consultant roles will go and a further 102 staff roles will be removed as a direct result of the shop closures. Employees were informed yesterday.

Cook employs 3,800 staff across its store network in the UK.

The changes are part of an efficiency programme and a growth in bookings made online.

Cook said 64% of its bookings were made online last year – up 30% year on year.

The shops affected are those which are about to have leases expire and are not profitable.

In February chief executive Peter Fankhauser said there had been a drop in footfall, but ruled out more large-scale shop closures this year.

Cook has closed 200 shops in the last two years. Following today’s announcement, Cook’s retail network will stand at 566 shops.

The travel group put its airline business up for sale in February following a poor financial performance last year which led the company to issue two profit warnings.

Cook appointed former Tui Travel CFO and Travelopia chief executive Will Waggott as chief of tour operating last month, to “take take a cold, hard look” at the business.

However, today’s changes were planned before his arrival.

Waggott, said: “Today’s announcement reflects the wider challenges seen on the high street, with more and more customers choosing to book online. These measures will help us to drive greater efficiencies across Thomas Cook so that we relentlessly focus our resources in those areas that give us the greatest opportunity to make a difference to customers in our core holiday offering.

“Looking ahead, we will be working to ensure that Thomas Cook is fit for the future, putting a rigorous focus on costs in a competitive environment while giving customers more reasons to holiday with the strongest brand in travel.”

The proposed shop closures are:

Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne
West Bromwich Sandwell Centre, West Midlands
Llandudno, North Wales
Sunderland Sainsburys, Tyne & Wear
North Shields, Tyne & Wear
Peterlee, County Durham
Accrington, Lancashire
Market Harborough 23 St Marys Place, Leicestershire
Bury Haymarket, Lancashire
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Aberdeen Langstane, Aberdeen
Chesham, Buckinghamshire
Launceston, Cornwall
Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Shipley, West Yorkshire
Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire
Guildford, Surrey
Glenrothes 52 Unicorn Way, Fife
Colchester High St, Essex
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
Kirkintilloch Cowgate, Glasgow

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