Jet2holidays’ trade sales boss said he would not want “anything to happen” to rival Thomas Cook – just days before Thomas Cook announced widespread job cuts and shop closures.

Alan Cross made the comments three days before Thomas Cook said it planned to close 21 stores and had put 320 shop staff under consultation.

Speaking at a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast last week, he said: “I would not like anything to happen to Thomas Cook because [if] a brand like that [failed], it would be bad for the industry and consumer confidence.”

Cross added that had no plans to acquire Thomas Cook Airlines, and had no current plans to start flying from other London airports after launching routes from Stansted in 2017.

Thomas Cook issued two profit warnings last year and put its airline up for sale in February. Last week, it announced the staff consultations and shop closures following a review of its retail performance.

Thomas Cook said the cuts reflected a shift in consumer buying habits, with 64% of its UK bookings made online in 2018, up from 49% in 2017.

The planned closure of 21 stores will see the loss of 102 staff across those branches, with a further 218 sales consultant roles across the network also earmarked to go.

The 21 shops affected – ranging from Glasgow and Llandudno to Launceston and Guildford – are those with leases that are about to expire and are not profitable.

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

It has closed 200 shops in the last two years.

The new round of closures will reduce Thomas Cook’s chain to 566 shops.

This week, Thomas Cook also announced it was reviewing its financial services division to cut costs and said UK chief of retail and money Anth Mooney had left the business.

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