Thomas Cook employees in NI offered lifeline by Hays Travel

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"The agreement will see Hays Travel acquire a total of 555 stores around the United Kingdom, providing re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former employees of Thomas Cook's retail operations who were made redundant", the statement added.

In a statement posted on its website today, it said: "We are delighted to say that we already have some former Thomas Cook stores open with their original staff in place, and customers are popping in to welcome them back while we get trading up and running".

All 555 Thomas Cook stores are to be bought by Hays Travel, it has been revealed.

"I'm particularly proud to be able to commit to offering over 50 Thomas Cook captains the opportunity to join TUI Airways and continue to fly customers on their holidays".

Founder John Hays said: "It is a game-changer for us, nearly trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce, and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people".

"These people didn't do anything wrong, one day the company went into liquidation and their jobs had gone", said John Hays, the managing director of Hays Travel.

"We are looking to employ as many Thomas Cook staff as possible and we are reaching out to them".

Thomas Cook's demise was the result of a multitude of factors, but at the core was a mountain of debt that was just too costly to service.

Meanwhile, MPs will grill Thomas Cook's former bosses next week over its collapse last month.

He also confirmed the Thomas Cook brand would disappear from the British high street and will be replaced by Hays.

"In the last two weeks we have already employed or offered jobs to around 600 former Thomas Cook colleagues, and it has been a very emotional experience for them. This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company's assets".

Hays Travel will acquire the entire retail portfolio of 555 former Thomas Cook shops after it signed a deal with the Official Receiver and Special Managers from KPMG.

Irene Hays, the chairwoman of Hays Travel, rubbished a claim by Ryanair CEO, Michael O'Leary, that the number of people booking flights and hotels online meant the package holiday industry was "screwed".

The 178-year-old travel company folded on Monday, September 23, after failing to secure a rescue deal.

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