Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green expressed confidence in the company’s UK agents today as she outlined her strategy to develop the group’s web business.
Green said: “Having a fine retail chain is important. It is a very important part of Thomas Cook’s future.”
Referring to a presentation to City analysts on Wednesday following the recent announcement of shop closures, Green said: “I said clearly I don’t think there will be other major changes. We will shape [the estate] as leases expire.”
Cook announced the closure of 195 UK shops last week, with 1,600 retail jobs to go among 2,500 redundancies in total.
Green said almost half the shops to close are near to an outlet that will remain open: “48% of the stores we will close have another store within a kilometre and 23% within a street,” she said.
The 874 stores which remain open will be progressively revamped, she said.
“We want more stores to look like our new Leeds concept store." The shop, which feels more like an Apple store than a traditional travel agency, opened in Leeds' White Rose shopping centre opened before Christmas.
Green added: “We will have the next concept store within walking distance of the City of London - so the City analysts can see it.”
At the same time, Green outlined her determination to move a greater proportion of business online - backed by findings from research among 18,000 consumers across Europe.
She said: “Travel is an omni-channel environment and 92% of our customers use the web as part of their travel journey.
“But our customers say the web on its own doesn’t cut it. They want to have trust and care."
She added: “Cook already has 34% of its business via the web - that is a lot better than people think - and we have put all our products through all channels at the same pricing.
“But we don’t want to be an online travel agent with every piece of product out there and no assurance [for customers].
“Everything on our websites will be fully assured and checked by Thomas Cook.”
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