Ex-Thomas Cook boss ‘deeply sorry’ over firm’s failure
Peter Fankhauser is one of five senior Thomas Cook figures giving evidence to the Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.
The former boss of Thomas Cook has said he is “deeply sorry” for the travel firm’s collapse.
Ex-chief executive Peter Fankhauser told MPs that senior figures at the company regretted being unable to save the “iconic brand”.
Employees, customers and suppliers are among those affected by the failure of the firm.
Several former Thomas Cook workers attended the Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee hearing to watch Mr Fankhauser and four other senior company figures give evidence.
In his opening remarks, he said: “You heard me probably say it already, but I really want to repeat it in front of the members of the select committee, how deeply sorry we are that we couldn’t save this iconic brand and this company who has a long, long standing history in this part of the UK industry.
“I’m deeply sorry about this failure and I’m deeply sorry for the distress we caused to millions of customers who booked holidays with us and who were on holidays with us.
“I’m deeply sorry for our suppliers who were long-standing partners and who were loyal to us throughout this time.
“I’m especially sorry for all my colleagues who worked extremely hard and tirelessly to make Thomas Cook a better company.”
But MPs were quick to call into question some of the accounting policies including the decision to include a £2.5 billion “goodwill” value on the business in 2018.
They also asked the bosses why they based bonuses on profits that excluded one-off payments to pay for the restructuring. A total of £1.8 billion was written as “exceptional” costs over eight years.
Committee chairwoman Rachel Reeves said: “The proof of the pudding is somewhat in the eating and you failed to turn around this business. In the end you couldn’t just hide these numbers (exceptionals) forever, they caught up with you.”
She also called the former Thomas Cook chairman Frank Meysman “deluded” over the collapse.
Ms Reeves added: “You can point to as many successes as you like but you have brought down a 178-year business with huge repercussions for customers, staff and taxpayers. You can point to the successes but I’ll point to the failures and they hugely outweigh the successes you’ve spoken about. I think you’re deluded Mr Meysman about the business you ran.”
She told Mr Fankhauser that his apologies would “ring a bit more true” if he was willing to pay back his 2017 bonus worth more than half a million pounds in cash.
The money could be “put to better purpose” such as redundancy payments or compensation for taxpayers, she added.
Mr Fankhauser replied: “In my reflections I will take that back, chair, and I will consider what is right, but I’m not going to decide that today.”