Thomas Cook to close 21 stores across UK

22 March 2019, 10:07 | Updated: 22 March 2019, 10:35

Travel operator Thomas Cook has announced plans to close 21 high street stores, resulting in 320 job losses.

The company said the closures were part of plans to "streamline" its UK retail network under an efficiency programme.

The travel giant added that it needed to address changing customer behaviour.

Thomas Cook pointed to the fact that holidaymakers are switching online, with 64% of all its bookings in the UK being made on the web last year.

Closures will result in Thomas Cook's retail estate reducing to 566 shops, with the jobs to be lost including 102 customer-facing roles and a further 218 store-based roles removed as part of the review.

A consultation process with the affected staff and unions has begun.

Will Waggott, Thomas Cook's chief of tour operating, said: "Today's announcement reflects the wider challenges seen on the high street, with more and more customers choosing to book online.

"These measures will help us to drive greater efficiencies across Thomas Cook so that we relentlessly focus our resources in those areas that give us the greatest opportunity to make a difference to customers in our core holiday offering.

"Looking ahead, we will be working to ensure that Thomas Cook is fit for the future, putting a rigorous focus on costs in a competitive environment while giving customers more reasons to holiday with the strongest brand in travel."

Thomas Cook said last month it was exploring options to sell its airline business amid growing concerns over the company's future.

The firm's shares were hammered at the end of last year following its third profit warning of 2018 and stinging full-year losses.

Thomas Cook has been hit by charges related to flight disruptions, writedowns on money owed by hotels and transformation costs.

It was also affected by delayed demand for its tour holidays due to the summer heatwave.

The Thomas Cook stores listed for closure:

Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne

Sandwell Centre in West Bromwich, West Midlands

Llandudno, North Wales

Sainsbury's in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

North Shields, Tyne and Wear

Peterlee, County Durham

Accrington, Lancashire

23 St Marys Place in Market Harborough, Leicestershire

Haymarket in Bury, Lancashire

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Union Street, Aberdeen

Chesham, Buckinghamshire

Launceston, Cornwall

Stevenage, Hertfordshire

Shipley, West Yorkshire

Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire

Guildford, Surrey

52 Unicorn Way in Glenrothes, Fife

Colchester High St, Essex

Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Cowgate in Kirkintilloch, Glasgow