UK: Thomas Cook sets out turnaround strategy

Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green

Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green - Credit: PA

THOMAS Cook today promised to become more “high-tech and high-touch” as it rolls out a turnaround strategy with a bigger focus on city breaks.

The UK’s second largest holiday operator, which staved off collapse a year ago following a rescue deal with lenders, said its plans centred on providing customers with “trusted and personal” holiday experiences.

It also aims to cut a further £50million of costs, on top of £350m of savings already identified.

Last week, the group announced plans to axe 2,500 jobs and close 195 high street travel agencies, reducing its estate to 874 shops.

Among the branches identified for closure are Thomas Cook stores in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Halstead and Co-op Travel stores (which became part of the group when the Co-operative Group’s travel business merged with Thomas Cook in 2011) in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Chelmsford.

Unveiling its future strategy to investors today, Thomas Cook said the outlook for the current year was encouraging, with bookings for summer holidays going well.

Chief executive Harriet Green said: “We will expand our already successful hotel concepts and build a new portfolio of flexible, trusted products and services.”

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The review, based on a survey of more than 18,000 people, identified that some holiday types such as city breaks were only a small part of the Thomas Cook portfolio, a shortfall it has vowed to address.

Ms Green added: “The customer survey has led us to conclude that trust, personalisation, high-tech and high-touch are the success factors in travel and consistency and strong brand are the drivers of consumer choice.”

The review comes amid speculation that Thomas Cook will look to tap shareholders for £400m in a bid to bolster its finances. It said it was still considering what action to take.