Hays Travel to close 89 shops as lockdown delays ‘bounce back’

Travel firm Hays Travel is to close 89 of its 535 shops following a review into its take over of Thomas Cook.

The Sunderland-based firm bought the collapsed company in October 2019and deferred a review into the performance of its shops until 2021.

A Hays Travel spokeswoman said the third national lockdown and travel ban meant “the company had to act”.

She said 388 staff affected by the closures would be offered “alternative work options” to minimise redundancies.

Chief operating officer Jonathon Woodall said the “first priority” was to “look after our customers” and ensure “the highest standards of customer service”.

He added that the firm was “continuing with our robust two-year business plan and continue to be ready for the bounce back when it comes”.

Dame Irene Hays, owner and chair of the Sunderland-based firm, said it was “always our intention to review the performance of our shops at the end of the licence period”.

“We had hoped the business would bounce back in January and it has not,” she said.

“We have done everything we could to safeguard jobs and the business thus far, and we have come up with a range of options for those at risk of redundancy to help as many colleagues as we can.”

Options for staff include working from home or filling vacancies in other shops.

The spokeswoman said the firm employed about 7,700 people, many of whom were “working from home taking bookings for holidays for 2021 and beyond”.

The company has yet to confirm which of its locations will be affected.