Smiles all round as former Falkirk Thomas Cook shop re-opens as Hays Travel
Sadness turned to smiles at Falkirk’s former Thomas Cook store this week as the branch re-opened as Hays Travel – with all staff reinstated in their previous posts.
Tears were shed by both staff and customers when the popular travel agency went into administration on September 23 after bosses were unable to raise a financial rescue package of over £1 billion or a government bailout.
More than 9000 people in the UK were immediately put out of work with 22,000 employees affected overall including those working abroad.
Despite facing unemployment after the firm folded the Falkirk High Street team were praised for their professionalism as they continued to help customers in their own time by offering their expertise to help them claim back cash for their axed holidays.
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Now, however, thanks to Sunderland-based Hays Travel acquiring 55 Thomas Cook stores around Scotland, the dedicated seven-strong team have all got their jobs back including store manager Tom Nolan, assistant manager Cerys Docherty and sales consultants Victoria Harkins, Victoria Grant, Margaret McKeown, Kelly Sloan and Lauren Irvine.
Cerys (26) said: “It’s just amazing and we’re all still taking it in to be honest but we are so happy and can’t thank Hays Travel enough.
“I was the person who had to close the shop once we heard the company had folded and it was just devastating turning the lights out for the last time and locking the door.
“I was crying my eyes out as saying goodbye to Thomas Cook was more than giving up a job for me – it felt more like a family I was saying goodbye to as it was all I had ever known since I went to work there from leaving school eight years ago.
“We were so relieved therefore when we were informed by a conference call that Hays Travel were taking over the company and we would hopefully be able to get our jobs back again. That was a couple of weeks ago and we got the keys on Monday so started gutting the shop then and getting it all ready for opening and we were able to open up on Tuesday.
“We only have one computer at present but we should have the whole store up and running properly by next Tuesday, October 22. We are most definitely open though so customers are welcome to come in and see us for advice at any time – we are more than happy to help.
“We’ve had so many customers and staff from local businesses drop by to wish us well which has been lovely. We’ve received chocolates and cakes and Bayne’s the bakers gave us free doughnuts for opening which was so generous of them and The Jolly Gin also gave us a free afternoon tea.
“It’s been such an emotional time and it still all feels quite surreal to be honest but we are delighted to be back and in the jobs we love so much.
“We are grateful for all the support and good wishes from customers and fellow retailers and are delighted to be back on the High Street as part of the Hays Travel family and grateful for the opportunity to look after the travel needs of the people of Falkirk.”
Hays Travel has acquired the entire retail portfolio of over 555 former Thomas Cook shops in the UK after it signed a deal with the Official Receiver and Special Managers at KPMG on October 9.
This includes 55 high street shops across Scotland, 30 of which have opened their doors already.
Hays Travel is a private company, jointly owned and managed by John Hays, managing director, and Irene Hays, chairperson of the Hays Travel Group.
Mr Hays said he was excited to meet the staff in Falkirk as well as all those in the other stores he has acquired.
He said: “I’m very proud of the fantastic team who have helped me build Hays Travel over almost 40 years and they have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to bring this about.
“It is a game-changer for us, almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce. “