The dramatic scale of today’s announcement of 2,500 job losses at Thomas Cook could be a serious blow to morale at the travel giant, a leading industry observer has said.
Alan Bowen, of AGB Associates, a former legal advisor to Abta and now to the Association of Atol Companies, described today’s announcement as the largest single consolidation in travel ever.
“They [Thomas Cook] did announce back in 2011 that they were looking to close 200 shops , but losing 195 is a serious blow so it must be a serious blow to the morale of the staff.
“But I think we recognise that there are too many travel agents on the high street and Thomas Cook have a long way to go to get back onto the straight and narrow.
“Thomson have been closing stores too but not making a song and a dance about it.
“They [Thomas Cook] have been saying they have been looking to do more digital sales as there’s less human involvement.
“This is probably the largest single contraction on the high street [for the travel industry], I would have thought, ever.”
Referring to Thomas Cook announcing that it was considering selling some of its business, Bowen added:
“You have to look at what’s making money, as you can’t afford to sell all your jewels as you will have nothing left.
“Each branch needs to be making a profit. You can’t subsidise one shop with another. Each shop has to stand on its own two feet.
“The high street isn’t dead, but it’s changing. I think if you are Thomas Cook and you have two branches for a 100,000 population, I can see the logic behind it.
“I think for some of the shops, it will be about stopping duplication and for others it is because they are not profitable.
“Thomas Cook clearly has a long way to go from the mess that their previous chief executive appeared to lead them into.
“2,500 is a considerable amount of people to lose their jobs. I suspect some of the staff can see the writing on the wall when they say they are considering making you redundant, as you must know if your shop isn’t doing particularly well.
“I think for those who want to remain in the retail environment, it may be quite difficult finding jobs, especially for all 2,500. It’s a big blow for some people.”
Bowen expected some companies may see the news and email out offers for Cook agents to join as homeworkers, but that being a homeworker doesn’t suit everyone.
“They go to a shop to work as they like being with other people. For others, it may be the start of a new career,” he said.
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