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Bishop's Stortford travel agent Premier Travel takes on Thomas Cook duo who lost their jobs

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Two women who lost their jobs at Thomas Cook in Bishop's Stortford when the business went bust have started work with another travel agent in the town.

And their former colleagues at the Jackson Square branch who found themselves unemployed could also soon be back in work in the travel industry after it was revealed that Hays Travel is taking on all 555 Thomas Cook stores in the UK.

Nicola Lotts and Natasha Walker, who each have 17 years of experience, have made the short move from Thomas Cook in Jackson Square to the Premier Travel branch in South Street.

Natasha Walker and Nicola Lotts have joined Premier Travel in Bishop's Stortford after losing their jobs at Thomas Cook (18966127)
Natasha Walker and Nicola Lotts have joined Premier Travel in Bishop's Stortford after losing their jobs at Thomas Cook (18966127)

Nicola said: “We couldn't believe what we were hearing when we heard the news about Thomas Cook. Luckily, we knew people who worked at Premier who contacted us to say there were positions available.

“The recruitment process all happened within a week and it was such a relief to get the role.

"We're excited for the change and our new chapter, and we're looking forward to helping Premier customers book their holidays soon.”

The Thomas Cook branch in Jackson Square Photo: David James (18969584)
The Thomas Cook branch in Jackson Square Photo: David James (18969584)

Paul Waters, director of Premier Travel, said: “The travel industry is extremely close knit so we were devastated to hear the news of Thomas Cook.

“Premier Travel wanted to help in any way we could, so fast-tracked interviews for staff who had lost their jobs. We're really pleased to have been able to welcome lots of new faces to our branches so far and back into a job they love.”

Premier Travel, a privately-owned, independent travel agency, started in 1936. It has 21 branches in East Anglia and the South of England, including shops in Saffron Walden and Royston, and its headquarters are in Cambridge.

It was announced today (Wednesday) that Hays Travel is to take on all 555 Thomas Cook stores and employ a large number of former employees of the 178-year-old travel firm, which ceased trading on September 23.

The independent travel agent has already taken on 421 ex Thomas Cook personnel and has further offers outstanding to former members of staff.

David Chapman, Official Receiver, 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."

Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG and joint special manager of Thomas Cook’s retail division, said: "This is an extremely positive outcome and we are delighted to have secured this agreement.

"It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street.

"We are pleased to have achieved this in a short time frame and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties.

"Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate."

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

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