Premier Travel is to open two branches in Suffolk staffed by former Thomas Cook employees.

The stores, in Sudbury and Mildenhall, will bring the East Anglia-based agency’s total to 23.

Premier Travel had originally hoped to take on the leases of former Thomas Cook stores in the two market towns, but has instead found alternative premises in central locations.

MoreA day with… Premier Travel, Cambridge

Diane Buck will be the manager of the Sudbury branch. Buck was at Thomas Cook for 32 years and managed numerous branches in the area, including the Sudbury store.

Buck said: “I was in Portugal visiting my parents when the collapse happened. The following day, Premier contacted me and talked about the possibility of opening a new branch with my team from the Thomas Cook shop. We all decided together that we would like to do it.

“It’s a smaller company and it felt right for all of us. I can’t wait to get started. I’m giddy – we’re going back to doing what we love and we just can’t wait.”

The branch will hold a soft opening on November 29 to coincide with the Sudbury Christmas lights being switched on. The Mildenhall branch is also due to open next week.

Paul Waters, director of Premier Travel, said: “Premier Travel already has three branches in Suffolk so an expansion in this area was natural progression for us.

“The Premier Travel team was devastated when we heard the news about Thomas Cook. In those first few days the future for staff was very uncertain and we wanted to help them in any way we could. We immediately started recruiting.”

Hays Travel has reopened the shops in Sudbury and Mildenhall and is recruiting for both stores.