Thomas Cook set to axe 2,500 jobs

Thomas CookAround 2,500 jobs are to be axed at holidays group Thomas Cook after it revealed plans to close 195 of its high street travel agencies.

The job losses - 16% of its 15,500 workforce in the UK and Ireland - will impact workers across its retail network as well as administration and back-office staff. Thomas Cook said the moves were being made as part of a restructuring and to slash administration costs.
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Having recently shut 149 stores, Thomas Cook will be left with 874 travel agencies across the UK and Northern Ireland. It will confirm which stores are due to be closed later this week.

Thomas Cook is also planning to shut its Accrington office in the North West in a move impacting around 100 roles.

Administrative and managerial jobs are also at risk across its head office in Peterborough and its Preston site. Thomas Cook also has offices in Egham in Surrey, Brighton, and Birkenshaw in West Yorkshire.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association, which represents employees, said it was "shocked and angry" at the scale of the job losses.

General secretary Manuel Cortes said: "This constant policy of slash and burn, with the axing of one in four stores and the loss of jobs, is simply self-defeating. The company needs new products if it is to come to terms with the age of the internet and prosper in the 21st century.

"That is the only way to stop this spiral of decline which repeated bad management decisions over the past five years has led them."

But Thomas Cook's recently appointed UK and Ireland chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said the proposals will help return the group to profitability. Thomas Cook slumped to a £590 million loss in its last financial year and is working on plans to slash costs.

As well as shutting stores, the UK's second-biggest travel company has trimmed its airline fleet and sold off hotels after it was forced to turn to its banks for an additional £200 million of loans in 2011.

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Thomas Cook set to axe 2,500 jobs

Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to store closures that left 27,000 people out of work. Since its collapse former Woolworths stores have become a blight in many town centres and more than 100 of the large stores still lay vacant in January 2012.

Loyal customers didn't have go without the family favourite store for long however as it reappeared online as Woolworths.co.uk in 2009, after Shop Direct Home Shopping bought out the Woolworths name.

The greetings cards specialist became the latest highstreet casualty in May with 8,000 jobs on the line when it was forced it into administration. Its biggest supplier, American Greetings, then bought Clintons out of administration and put the retailer through a rebrand including a new logo and complete in-store revamps.

Its contemporary format includes new fixtures and fittings and easier to navigate stores, and will be rolled out to all 400 UK stores at the cost of £16million. Bosses aim to bring the brand back to profit within two years.

Poor sales in the run up to Christmas was the final nail in the coffin for several struggling chains, including lingerie retailer La Senza, which went bust in January 2012 with 146 shops and 2,600 staff. Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya bought part of the business, which saved 60 shops and 1,000 staff.

La Senza has been struggling in a similar way to other specialist shops such as Game and Mothercare, which have been hit by cut-price competition at supermarkets and have no alternative products to help shoulder losses.

Stricken retailer Blacks Leisure, which employed 3,600 staff across 98 Blacks stores and 208 Millets stores, went into administration in Janurary 2012 after failing to find an outright buyer.

Soon after its stores were bought by sportswear firm JD Sports in pre-pack deal - an insolvency procedure which sees a company being sold immediately after it has entered administration – which saw most of Blacks' £36 million of debt wiped out.

Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold in January when the group collapsed due to unsustainable debts, resulting in 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores, which continue to trade with 2,400 staff.

Peacocks collapsed under a £740 million net debt mountain in January 2012 in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths. Despite being sold out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a deal that saved 380 stores and 6,000 jobs, administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect. This lead to 3,350 redundancies from stores and Peacocks head office in Cardiff.

The high street name continues trading as bosses work to stabilise the situation, yet a further blow was dealt this month with news that the firm's pension fund is in £15.8 million shortfall as a result of the collapse.

Game buckled under its £85m debt pile in March 2012 and was placed into administration after being unable to pay a £21m rent bill. Administrator PwC immediately closed 277 shops, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Soon after, investment firm, OpCapita bought 333 Game stores, saving more than 3,000 jobs.

Game's demise followed a string of profit warnings and the failure of nervous suppliers, including leading names Electronic Arts and Nintendo, to go on providing the latest games, further damaging poor sales.

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