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Up to 2,500 jobs saved as Thomas Cook UK shops sold

Hays Travel has agreed a deal to buy all 555 Thomas Cook stores in the UK, saying its expansion could lead to 2,500 jobs being saved.

Hays, the country's largest independent travel agent, told Sky News it had already taken on 494 ex-Thomas Cook employees and job offers were pending for many more.

About 9,000 staff in the UK lost out when the company collapsed last month – prompting the country's biggest peacetime repatriation exercise to recover more than 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad.

'Stress tests' to prevent another Thomas Cook.

That exercise was completed on Monday.

Hays said more than 100 of the new jobs would be based at its Sunderland headquarters, with the rest in shops across the UK.

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The company said it was hoping to reopen many sites immediately.

The Official Receiver's statement said the property deal, for an undisclosed sum, provided opportunities for a "significant number" of former Thomas Cook workers.

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David Chapman said: "I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement with Hays Travel to acquire Thomas Cook's entire UK retail estate, comprising 555 stores across the country.

"This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company's assets."

The news will be seen as a lift for the UK's high streets as a crisis of consumer confidence combines with surging costs to hurt store-focused retailers.

Hays Travel
Image: Hays Travel currently operates from just under 200 stores and online

Thomas Cook's demise also reignited fears for the wider travel market as airlines engage in a price war at a time of dented demand and higher fuel costs.

Hays also runs the Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel agents.

The company's brands include Just Go Travel, which trades under the Hays Travel name predominantly across the North West of England.

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