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Travel Giant Thomas Cook Set To Merge With Co-op

In a move creating the UK’s largest travel agent, holiday giant Thomas Cook and the Co-op announced plans today to merge their high street travel and foreign exchange businesses.

Under the agreement Thomas Cook’s Going Places shops will be rebranded Co-Operative Travel, presenting the newly formed company with more than 1,200 shops across the country.

It’s not smiles all around as the tie-up is likely to result in job losses as the two companies said the merger would generate savings totalling around £35 million a year, including the amalgamation of headquarters as well as back-office functions.

Thomas Cook Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said it was hoped the headquarters for the merged company would be situated in Peterborough – home of Thomas Cook’s current head office.

Mr Fontenla-Novoa also said that it was not possible to confirm the number of stores which would close as a result of the merger.

Head office staff at Co-Operative Travel are currently based in Manchester and in the West Midlands.

Co-op chief executive Peter Marks said: “This is a marriage between two of the industry’s most trusted brands.”

“This is really about job creation and protection, but yes of course, by combining the two head offices there will be some job losses.” He said.

Mr Marks also added that it was too early to confirm the number of job losses among the combined workforce of around 9,000 staff.

Thomas Cook, which will own 70% of the new business, confirmed last week it was reviewing its UK workforce of between 13,000 and 15,000 staff, as well as all divisions in its UK arm, and it’s supplier base, in an attempt to cut costs.

The deal is currently subject to regulatory approval, however the companies hope the deal will be signed and sealed in early December.