Travel deal with Thomas Cook gets go-ahead

Plans to create the UK’s biggest travel retailer by merging Thomas Cook’s 780 high street businesses with 460 Co-operative Travel outlets have been officially approved by the Competition...

A brief statement issued on behalf of Thomas Cook, the Co-operative Group and Midlands Co-op said all three parties welcomed the announcement that the proposals to create the country’s largest multi-channel travel can go ahead and noted the Commission’s conclusion that the deal will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the industry.

The proposed deal — first revealed in October 2010 — is expected to be completed around the end of September. Under the joint venture, Thomas Cook will own 66.5 per cent of the new combined business with the Co-operative Group having a 30 per cent stake and Midlands Society 3.5 per cent.

Provisional approval for the merger was granted last month and confirmed yesterday following a consultation process involving interested parties.

Thomas Cook, based in Peterborough, said the merger will result in savings amounting to £35 million per year, but it is anticipated that many high street travel branches will close following the completion of the deal.

The Sunday Times reported that the Thomas Cook organisation is "mulling over plans to close hundreds of shops and shrink its airline as it fights for its future as a travel agent". The paper says a "root and branch review" will be instigated as soon as the merger with Co-operative Travel is completed.

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