Thomas Cook staff at the retail stores earmarked for closure will begin talking to their customers about the plans from tomorrow, UK chief executive Peter Fankhauser has confirmed.
The shop closures will mean Cook will be left with 874 stores and Fankhauser said those on the closure list were based on profitability. The full list of 195 stores will not be made public.
“We looked at which shops are contributing and which are not. We have looked at proximity of the shops and those which are going to close most have another shop nearby.”
The remaining stores will be a mixture of Thomas Cook, Co-op and Midlands Co-op, added Fankhauser saying brand was not a consideration.
He said modern features already being trialed in Cook’s concept store in Leeds will be rolled out to remaining stores. And he said it was vital that Cook linked its offline and online presence. “Wherever the customer wants us we want to be present,” he said.
“We are committed to the high street, there is no need for any speculation on that. We are entirely happy with our presence on the high street with 874 shops but we have to combine offline with online and build an omni-channel presence.”
Fankhauser described today’s announcement of 2,500 redundancies, including 1,600 in the retail division, as crucial in ongoing work to reshape the firm. He said: “The need to make such a decision is never nice. To see the effect it has on people, it’s really not easy.
“It’s vital we do it with integrity and respect for the people who are leaving us first of all and then we can convince our people that we are going to have a strong future.
“Thomas Cook is a magnificent brand and it has excellent people, and people saying ‘yes I want to be a part of the success story’ and we want to stay with Thomas Cook and build the future.
“I’m totally convinced we are going to succeed on that. Of course this is a big decision but this is about the future and I think a lot of people understand what we have to do.”
Fankhauser denied much of the recent consolidation at Cook was aimed at keeping the firm’s main shareholders and its creditors happy. He said: “There are many stakeholders in this company and we have to keep them all happy. We have to maximise profitability – this is the primary task.”
Next week, Cook chief executive Harriet Green will make her strategy for the future of the group public following a strategic review.
Fankhauser said he has the full backing for the actions he has announced in the UK from Green and the entire Plc board.
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