Thomas Cook closures across the UK put jobs at risk in Plymouth
Jobs in Plymouth have been placed at risk after travel agent Thomas Cook today announced it plans to close nearly 200 of its high street stores.
Thomas Cook has branches across the city, with three stores in Plymouth and an outlet at Sainsburys Marsh Mills.
The struggling company, which also owns Co-operative Travel, says it will close 76 branches of Thomas Cook and 119 Co-operative Travel, but declined to reveal which branches are facing the chop.
The move leaves staff in Plymiuth with an uncertain future, with 16 per cent of the 15,500 UK and Ireland workforce to be laid off.
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A company spokeswoman said she could not confirm which stores are set to close as staff are being informed throughout the day.
The call centre, in Accrington, will also close under the proposals.
In total 2,500 of Thomas Cook's 15,500 employees will lose their jobs under the proposals.
The company has 1,069 stores in the UK making it the largest high street travel retailer.
It said: “A number of these stores do not meet the performance targets of the business, and are in communities where Thomas Cook has more than one retail outlet. This consultation aims to address excess capacity.”
Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook UK & Ireland’s CEO, said: “It is never easy to make decisions that impact directly on our people, but we also owe it to our customers to shape the business effectively and ensure that, when they book their holiday with us, our administrative costs are as low as possible.
“Even after these changes we will still have one of the largest retail networks in UK travel.
“It is essential that we operate with the right number of people as we move forward into the next era for our company.
“We are in consultation with our unions and employee representative bodies to minimise the impact of these changes and I am speaking personally to all employees today to provide information and support through this period of consultation.”
Sharon Ainsworth, national officer at shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “We were well aware of the challenges that Thomas Cook have been facing in turning their UK business around, but the scale and severity of these redundancies will come as a real shock to our members.
“We will be using the 90-day consultation period to urge the business to look at every possible alternative to redundancy for these hardworking staff. Many of our members are long-serving and I believe they have a lot to offer Thomas Cook in helping the business to build a successful future.
“Even those who are not at risk of redundancy are facing the prospect of cuts to their benefits packages, following a number of cost-cutting proposals which the business has put forward. We will be examining these proposals closely and will defend our members’ interests throughout this uncertain time.
“We will be doing all we can to support all of our members during the difficult weeks and months ahead.”
The firm reported pre-tax losses of £485.3m on the last financial year to September.
Thomas Cook blamed the losses on a "difficult trading environment" with higher fuel costs.