Cook boss Green reveals strategy for the future

Cook boss Green reveals strategy for the future

Thomas Cook today unveiled long-awaited plans for a turn-around in the business involving the sale of non-core assets to raise up to £150 million.

No businesses were identified but ski arm Neilson and Preston-based luxury operator Gold Medal are thought to be among the divisions considered for disposal.

The group said the non-core disposal programme is underway with the opportunity to realise gross proceeds of £100 million to £150 million.

In a brief trading update ahead of half year results being published in May, the group described the UK turnaround as being on track.

Cook said its new profitable growth strategy was focused on “simplification, web innovation, flexible new products and services, enabled by rigorous execution and an integrated IT platform”.

Group chief executive Harriet Green said: “Our business transformation plans are ahead of schedule and already delivering substantially improved performance, which resulted in our recent return to the FTSE 250.

“We have exceeded our initial commitments and today announced a further £50 million of cost out actions, bringing the total profit improvement actions identified already to £350 million, £290 million of which is still to come.

“Stabilising the business has been our priority through addressing our cost and cash challenges, and strengthening the leadership team to create a more effective, aligned organisation focused on rigorous execution.”

She added: “We are excited to now reveal our new strategy based on four cornerstone principles; delighting customers with trusted, personalised holiday experiences through a high-tech, high-touch approach.

“Based on comprehensive consumer research we aspire to occupy a unique position in the market through our new strategy, deliver industry leading margins and customer loyalty, whilst maintaining consistent quality that can be trusted.

“We will expand our already successful hotel concepts; and build a new portfolio of flexible, trusted products and services; creating a single gateway for customers to access personalised recommendations, specifically tailored to meet their needs.

“The operational credibility of this strategy rests on the success of our self-help measures to date, our trusted brand and the clear targets and KPI’s against which we are ready to be judged.

“We have real options now, with the prospect of delivering improved revenues, strengthened gross margin, better cash flow and disposal opportunities, to build a strong and exciting future for the Thomas Cook Group, worthy of our customers and our heritage.”

Cook said the new strategy, which includes raising web penetration to half of all sales, has been based upon extensive research and analysis including a comprehensive, in-depth survey measuring the attitudes and changing needs of almost 18,000 travellers, validated against the experiences of many of its own customers.

The group added: “Building on its trusted brand and 171 year heritage Thomas Cook will deliver personalised holiday experiences through a high-tech, high-touch approach.”

This comes a week after the company under UK boss Peter Fankhauser announced 2,500 job losses and the closure of 195 travel agency branches.

Today the group said the “thorough” UK restructuring was underway to re-shape the organisation to meet customer needs with a target to deliver UK EBIT margin in excess of 5% by 2015.

A transformed approach to hotel purchasing to utilise group scale is already delivering “tangible benefits”.

Cook described its business transformation as gaining momentum with a further £50 million of “cost-out actions” identified bringing the total profit improvement actions so far to £350 million with more to come.

The Northern and Central Europe divisions continue to build on their industry leading positions while Cook is creating a group-wide airline business to improve costs, quality, reliability and customer experience to build a stronger business.


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