Travel agent set to close

BRANCH FOR AXE: The Thomas Cook travel agency in Dewsbury Market Place.
BRANCH FOR AXE: The Thomas Cook travel agency in Dewsbury Market Place.
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five jobs are under threat after travel agent Thomas Cook this week announced the closure of one of its Dewsbury branches as part of national cutbacks.

The shop, in Market Place, is set to close its doors in the new year, although the town’s second branch, in the Princess of Wales Precinct, is not affected.

Three full-time and two-part time staff are employed at Market Place. Staff at the branch were unable to confirm whether they would be made redundant or redeployed elsewhere.

The Dewsbury closure is part of a nationwide programme which will see 115 branches axed over the next two years and the possibility of another 50 closing on an ad hoc basis.

Thomas Cook recently announced an annual loss of £398m and is coming under pressure to reduce its £1bn debt, which it built up through acquisitions of rival agents – including a high profile merger with Co-operative Travel – and hotel chains.

Last month it had to ask for a £100m emergency bailout from its bankers and announced it had sold a hotel chain and six of its 41-strong UK airline fleet.

The company has blamed its losses on drastically reduced bookings to Egypt and Tunisia.

Thomas Cook UK mainstream chief executive Ian Ailles said: “We’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our retail network and today’s proposals will ensure that as the UK’s leading high street travel retailer we have the right stores in the right places for our customers.

“We will now be consulting with those affected colleagues and looking at redeployment opportunities.

“Our high street stores are a popular way for customers to book with us and are an essential part of our multi-channel approach alongside our websites and sales centres.”

The company’s Batley and Cleckheaton branches are set to remain open, as is its Birkenshaw call centre. Co-Operative Travel stores are not affected by the closure plans.