University honorary graduates' company to buy 555 stores from collapsed Thomas Cook

John Hays

Published on 09 October 2019

Sunderland-based independent travel agent Hays Travel has pledged to buy 555 stores from Thomas Cook after the holiday company collapsed.

Managing director of the company and Wearside businessman, John Hays, is an honorary graduate of the University of Sunderland.

It has been reported that Hays Travel has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff and has offered employment to more of the airline's personnel.

The deal will boost the high street presence of Hays, the UK's largest independent travel group.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean for the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism, said: “Given the size of the Thomas Cook operation and value of the work undertaken it is of no surprise that well-placed competitors are keen to take over the most viable aspects of the business, after all Thomas Cook was a viable concern for a very long time and the travel market continues to grow. Additionally Thomas Cook had a large asset base which could be acquired and deployed, it could be argued, more effectively than it had been.

"It’s clear here the private sector can be instrumental in mitigating the impact of large corporate failure rather than direct intervention from the government, which was the request from Thomas Cook previously.

"Hays Travel are a well-managed and highly experienced operator in this field who have a strong track record. They have all the competencies required to turnaround the viable aspects of this business and in doing so ensuring that the livelihoods of so many employees are secured. It’s really a great outcome from a very difficult situation.”

"This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company's assets," said David Chapman, the official receiver of Thomas Cook.

John Hays and Irene Lucas, also an honorary graduate, managing director and group chair of Hays Travel, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them."

All passengers who were stuck abroad have been returned to the UK.

Find out more about our Tourism, Hospitality and Events Courses at Sunderland.