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Thomas Cook branches in Newmarket and Mildenhall could re-open with former staff following Hays Travel deal

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Hays Travel has bought Thomas Cook's entire UK retail estate.

It means 555 branches across the country – including in Newmarket and Mildenhall – could be saved following the collapse of Thomas Cook last month.

Hays Travels, the UK's largest independent travel agent, said it would re-employ a 'significant number' of former employees.

Thomas Cook, Newmarket (18952153)
Thomas Cook, Newmarket (18952153)

The travel company, which also operates Just Go Travel, said it has already hired 421 former Thomas Cook employees following the appointment of the official receiver on September 23.

“This is an extremely positive outcome and we are delighted to have secured this agreement,” said Jim Tucker, a partner at KPMG and joint special manager of Thomas Cook’s retail division.

“It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street.

"Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate."

Hays Travel said it was proposing to re-open the Thomas Cook stores with 'immediate effect where possible and to take on up to 2,500 people'.

More than 100 new jobs will be based at the company’s Sunderland headquarters, with the rest in shops across the UK.

John and Irene Hays, managing director and group chair of Hays Travel Limited, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them."

John Hays opened the first branch of the travel company at the back of his mother’s childrenswear shop in Seaham, County Durham, in 1980. Since then business has grown to more than 190 travel shops across the UK.

The Thomas Cook deal will more than triple the size of the company.

David Chapman, official receiver, said: "This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company’s assets."