Central England Co-operative has agreed to take on six travel branches from Thomas Cook, bringing the number of travel branches operated by the society to 26.
The six sites, which are already based in Central England food stores in Atherstone, Oakham, Stirchley, Castle Donington, Glenfield and Ibstock, will transfer to the society in October. Talks are now taking place with all colleagues about transferring across to Central England under Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) legislation.
In 2010, the Co-operative Group and Central England formed a joint venture (JV) with Thomas Cook in a deal which saw all three travel firms bring together their store estate into one company that was 70% owned by Thomas Cook and 30% by the Co-operative Group; Central England, which was then Midlands Co-op, later joined the deal and took a 3.5% share, which came out of Thomas Cook’s stake. Thomas Cook took over the JV in December 2016.
Later, Central England acquired 20 travel stores, independent of the JV, when it merged with Anglia Co-op in 2013. Those are still operated by the society across Birmingham, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Derbyshire and Cambridgeshire.
The return of the six stores to Central England is “great news for customers, colleagues and members”, said Paul Dale, head of specialist business at the society. “This will now mean that we will be able to offer even more people a wide choice of products from a variety of tour operator partners across more locations than ever before.
“More customers and members will now be able to book their travel and holiday arrangements with our highly skilled colleagues while enjoying membership benefits and all in the convenient surroundings of one of our local food stores.”
Central England’s chief executive, Martyn Cheatle, was also “delighted” with the move.
“This will now mean we can showcase the expertise of our travel colleagues to more customers and members and continue to offer a vital service to our local communities,” he said.
The society is now recruiting for a range of roles at the new sites.