Polka Dot Travel is to open its 18th store in Longton, Stoke on Trent, which will be staffed by former Thomas Cook employees.

Former Longton Thomas Cook store manager Donna Jones will run the shop with the rest of her team who lost their jobs following the travel giant’s collapse.

Jones and colleague Lisa Colclough contacted Polka Dot Travel the day after Thomas Cook collapsed asking them to re-open a shop for their loyal customers in Longton.

They were one of a number of Thomas Cook retail teams to set-up a pop-up shops after the collapse to help customers with their holidays and fill in bookings forms.

Jones said: “We built a great relationship with the community in Longton over a period of 16 years and were absolutely devastated that our Thomas Cook shop closed. We desperately wanted to help our customers which is why we held the pop-up event immediately after the collapse.

“We have supported our devastated customers tirelessly over the last few weeks with some customers even turning up at our homes and knocking on the door.

“We are absolutely over the moon to be joining Polka Dot Travel, they are a really forward thinking business who pride themselves on delivering customer excellence.”

Tara Griffin who was the assistant manager at Thomas Cook said: “We already feel part of the Polka Dot Travel team and although the demise of Thomas Cook has been traumatic for us all we now feel that something positive has come from the situation.”

The former Thomas Cook Longton team are due to start with Polka Dot Travel within the next few weeks.

While waiting for their new store to be refurbished, the team will be supporting customers initially via their new Polka Dot Travel Longton Facebook page and over the coming weeks with several Polka Dot Travel pop up events in Longton.

Colclough, travel advisor said “We would like to say a huge thank you to the community of Longton.  We cannot believe the generosity and support we have received and are really looking forward to welcoming all of our customers back into our new Polka Dot Travel shop very soon”.

Polka Dot has stores in Staffordshire, North Wales, Shropshire and Cheshire.

Mark Johnson, director at Polka Dot Travel said: “Our strategy to grow the retail network to 30 stores by the end of 2020 remains unchanged. We are planning to expand our network at a sensible rate and will continue to look for suitable units in our preferred locations as we have always done.

“This may include former Thomas Cook’s units if, and when they become available, but that won’t influence our decision to open in a town, nor will it create urgency for us to grow beyond what we deem to be a sensible growth rate.  We have had huge success opening new stores next door to many of our competitors and will happily continue with this approach”.