Thomas Cook is to streamline the number of third-party operators it sells as it looks to make the business “100% more directionally focused”.
The operator dropped specialists Belleair Holidays and Balkan Holidays in September, and Cook UK & Ireland managing director Chris Mottershead told Travel Weekly the number of partners would reduce further.
He said: “We’re reviewing all our third party suppliers currently. The number of partners we have is inefficient. We work with hundreds and hundreds and are spread too thinly, where we’re all things to everybody.
“The focus is two-fold. It’s about focusing on what we have to sell as a tour operator and then it’s about focusing just on key partners so we can provide them with more value.
“So it’s a commercial piece and also about quality as we want only the best quality products alongside our own brands.”
Asked if the new strategy was a departure from Thomas Cook’s previous mantra that it was a retailer first and foremost, Mottershead said: “We’re a holiday company and what we should promote first is the holidays that we create as a tour operator. That’s our number one priority. Everything else should be complementary.
“That’s why cruise is so fantastic as it’s absolutely complementary to what we do which is why we want to work with all the cruise suppliers in the UK.”
Mottershead revealed that Thomas Cook’s retail incentive scheme had been completely overhauled in line with the new focus on its own brands and on a smaller number of key third-party suppliers.
“The whole scheme has been amended, changed and updated to reflect this going into the New Year,” he said. “It’s part of a total review of the business to make sure everyone has a plan, is under control and knows what they are doing.
“Previously, the majority of people thought they were doing the right thing and it’s all been very positive but it wasn’t necessarily the priority and focus of the organisation, so what I am trying to do across the business is make everything more clear. Every department, every component is linked and now has a strategy,” said Mottershead.
Commenting on Belleair and Balkan, the latter of which Cook has sold for more than 30 years, a spokesman said: “Thomas Cook features a similar offering to Belleair Holidays and Balkan Holidays and we are confident our strong in-house portfolio will allow us to continue to offer our customers the comprehensive range of holiday experiences they demand.”
It added: “We’ve made a commitment to deliver unique holiday experiences to our customers, and today’s announcement forms part of this. We’d like to thank our trade partners for their professionalism as we work through the remainder of our agreement.”
The decision was met with disappointment by Balkan and Belleair.
A spokesman for Balkan said: “We are very disappointed that Thomas Cook has decided to end its 30 year relationship with Balkan Holidays.
“However, we are confident that our specialist product will continue to sell well thorugh our high-street agent partners as we have been doing successfully for the past 50 years.”
The operator would not say what percentage of sales Thomas Cook accounts for.
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