End of Thomson brand as TUI rings changes

Press Association
Thomson 50 years as holiday firm
Thomson 50 years as holiday firm

One of the UK's best known travel brands is set to disappear after owner TUI confirmed plans to use a single brand to promote its holidays.

The Thomson name, which dates back to 1965, will be ditched along with First Choice as part of a transition expected to take up to three years.

Thomson and First Choice catered for 5.2 million holidaymakers last year, with the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Greece the most popular destinations.

The consolidation behind the TUI brand comes after TUI Travel in the UK merged with its German parent company TUI AG to create a business with more than 300 hotels, 136 planes and 1,800 shops across Europe selling holidays to 30 million customers in 180 countries.

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Joint chief executive Peter Long said the firm would begin phasing out other European regional brands in the Netherlands and France before moving on to First Choice and Thomson as the last brands to go.

He said: "These will be the last to be rebranded because of their size. It will give us time to learn as we go. The move is aimed at strengthening our position in our markets."

The Thomson brand was established in 1965 by Canadian media baron Roy Thomson.

TUI Group said today it narrowed half-year losses, adding that it was putting its UK hotel booking website LateRooms up for sale

It said it planned to exit the online hotels finder, founded in Salford in 1999, by the end of financial year without giving further details.

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The group's losses narrowed to 272.6 million euros (£195.5 million) in the six months to the end of March, from 341.4 million euros (£244.8 million) a year ago, in its traditionally weaker winter period.
It said winter sales were 1% up compared with a year ago, with strong holidaymaker bookings in the UK, Germany and the Benelux countries. Average selling prices were also 1% up over the same period. Shares lifted 2%.

TUI said it was pleased with current trading with its summer holidays 59% sold, in line with last year. Bookings are 2% up on a year ago, with average selling prices across key markets up 1%, with the UK and Benelux countries trading well.

Mr Long said long-haul destinations were faring well, with Jamaica up 22% on last year, and Mexico up 37% over the same period.

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He added: "Now the UK general election is over it gives clarity to everyone, including consumers who have increasing amounts of disposable income to spend."

The group reiterated it was on track to grow underlying profits by between 10% and 15% this year.

TUI said that in the first six months of the year LateRooms generated sales of 31 million euros (£22.2 million), with an underlying earnings loss of 9 million euros (£6.5 million).

The business reiterated its plans to sell off its near-15% stake in the German Hapag Lloyd container shipping group, which analysts estimate is worth 470 million euros (£336 million).

Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson said: "Current trading looks robust with summer bookings ahead by 2% with prices ahead by 1%, which is a slight acceleration on the 1% booking growth last reported."

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