Thomas Cook reported trading figures today that defied reports it suffered a “slump” in sales in January.
The UK number two reported cumulative UK bookings for this summer 9% down year on year in the mainstream market – matching the latest industry figures from analyst GfK Ascent and just two percentage points behind the trading performance of Tui Travel, revealed yesterday.
The group’s total UK bookings are just 1% down following an 18% improvement year on year in its specialist and independent businesses. At the same time, Cook announced it has further reduced its mainstream capacity on last summer to -11%.
Cook reported a 4% improvement in average selling price on the same period last year. In a statement it said: “Discounts through our retail chain have been reduced.”
The company has previously blamed poor yield management and out-of-control discounting for a failure to make any profit on mainstream sales last year.
Thomas Cook’s UK trading figures for this winter also appear better than anticipated.
The group reported cumulative winter bookings to early February down 11% year on year against a 9% cut in capacity – increased from an 8% cut in December. GfK Ascent has confirmed bookings for the winter season to date are down 10%.
As a result of capacity cuts, Cook reported it has half as much left to sell for the current season as this time last year.
The group’s average selling prices for the winter are down 1% on a year ago. However, Cook attributed this to a sharp reduction in long-haul capacity – it has cut its fleet by six aircraft, mainly flying long-haul – and said: “Average selling price is up in all haul lengths.”
The figures fly in the face of media reports last month that Thomas Cook UK bookings dived by one third in early January. The reports originated from an uncorroborated report in the Financial Times on January 23 claiming: “Thomas Cook is reeling from a slump.”
Thomas Cook reported a rise in operating losses for the three months to December from £37 million to £91 million. It blamed this partly on capacity reductions and losses taken on from the Co-operative Travel business it now runs.
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