ONE of the new branches of Hays Travel which has opened in a former Thomas Cook unit has special significance to its new owners.
Among the 555 units taken over by Hays Travel is the shop at Sunderland’s Bridges shopping centre, which is now ready for business.
And for the company this opening will be particularly happy, as it’s in the city where Hays Travel started its business – and where it has its headquarters.
When Thomas Cook went into administration in late September, it was a huge blow for the travel industry, leaving thousands of people out of work and numerous holidaymakers without their vacations.
But now thanks to the intervention of Hays Travel scores of branches have already opened their doors – with more than 1500 former Thomas Cook employees back in work.
The new Hays Travel in the Bridges is now welcoming customers, having created four jobs initially, including two previous Thomas Cook staff members who were based at the store.
Andy Bradley, centre director at the Bridges, said it was fantastic news not just for the city, but for the country as a whole.
“It’s brilliant news for former Thomas Cook stores up and down the UK, but it’s particularly brilliant for Sunderland because Hays Travel is such a huge part of the local economy,” he said.
“It’s a massive Sunderland success story which has been – deservedly – recognised across the country for saving jobs and supporting the high street.
“Given its track record, there’s no doubt at all that Hays Travel will continue to flourish and we are delighted that we are able to welcome them into the Bridges.”
Jane Schumm, retail and training director at Hays Travel, added: “We’re absolutely delighted that the ex-Thomas Cook shop at the Bridges is one of the first to re-open as Hays Travel. Sunderland shops will always be extra special for us.
“We now have 138 ex-Thomas Cook shops open across the UK and 1930 new staff on the books – the fact that we are already welcoming customers back into shops, starting to rebrand and booking our first holidays is a tribute to our great people who have stopped at nothing to make this happen.”