Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Fears for Thomas Cook jobs as firm aims to axe 2,500

Travel firm Thomas Cook is to slash thousands of jobs across the UK in a bid to cut costs and serve a more internet-savvy customer base.

The company, thought to be the world's oldest travel firm, said it plans to reduce its workforce by 2,500 and shut 195 high street travel agencies.

Thomas Cook has 18 stores in the region – but wouldn't reveal how many staff work in them or how many jobs it plans to cut.

However, the company employs 15,500 in total across 800 UK and Ireland stores, and could employ as many as 350 people here.

A spokeswoman for the company said it was consulting with its staff and would reveal the number of redundancies and which stores it plans to cut later this week.

She said there was no risk to customers' holidays.

The process is primarily a means of reducing the company's cost base and serving the growing trend of booking holidays online rather than visiting a travel agent, the spokeswoman said.

"Financially, we're 'right-sizing' the business to reflect the fact customers want to interact with us differently," she said. "We're making sure that, administratively, we're competitive."

The company said the job losses will come from both its "back-office" and its retail network.

The chief executive of parent company Continental Europe Peter Fankhauser said it is "never easy to make decisions" which impact its workforce.

Background

Thomas Cook branches in Northern Ireland:

Wellington St, Ballymena;

William Street, Cookstown;

Abbeycentre, Newtownabbey;

Kingsgate Street, Coleraine;

Park Shopping Centre, Belfast;

Burrough Place, Portadown;

CastleCourt, Belfast;

Going Places, Lisburn;

Bow Street, Lisburn;

Connswater, Belfast;

High Street, Carrickfergus;

Forestside, Belfast;

Bloomfield, Bangor;

Ards Shopping Centre;

Foyleside Centre, Derry;

Ferryquay Street, Derry;

Buttercrane, Newry;

Quays Albert Basin, Newry

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