In a move to save around 35 million pounds a year and survive a difficult economy, two high street travel businesses have announced plans to merge services. If the merger succeeds then Thomas Cook and Co-op will join to become the largest UK travel agent and the second largest in foreign exchange. They will have a total of 1,200 shops within the new company.
Thomas Cook Group’s chief executive, Manny Fontenia-Novoa, said: ““Today’s announcement together with our plans to cut costs and streamline the rest of the UK business, will put us in a stronger position.”
The expected date of the merger is before the end of the year. The European regulatory authorities must approve the two coming together and there shouldn’t be a problem to get the approval. Both will operate under their own brand names with the only name change being that Thomas Cook’s Going Places will be renamed Co-operative Travel.
The merger has caused worry that operating cost cuts could involve a high number of staff positions being eliminated.
Co-operative Group’s chief executive, Peter Marks said: “This is really about job creation and protection, but yes of course, by combining the two head offices there will be some job losses.”
Gerry Doherty, a TSSA union leader, who represents Thomas Cook staff said: “We hope the merged company brings new business and new jobs but we are mindful what the short-term consequences could mean.”
In addition, the shop workers union, Usdaw union, has announced plans to talk with the newly formed company in an attempt to secure job position.