Jobs at risk as Thomas Cook announces plans to close four North East branches

More than 300 jobs are at risk across the UK as Thomas Cook reveals plans to close 21 stores.

By Debra Fox
Friday, 22 March, 2019, 09:29
Thomas Cook made the announcement today. Picture: PA.

Four of these will be in the North East, with branches in Sunderland Sainsbury's, Peterlee, Gosforth and North Shields on the list of those affected.

The travel giant said today that the closures are part of plans to "streamline" its UK retail network, as customer behaviour continues to change.

More holidaymakers are choosing to book their trips online - and Thomas Cook has confirmed that web bookings accounted for 64% of the firm's bookings in the UK in 2018.

The closures will mean Thomas Cook's retail estate will reduce to 566 shops.

Jobs to be lost include 102 customer-facing roles and a further 218 store-based positions.

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A consultation with affected staff and unions is already underway.

Thomas Cook's chief of tour operating, Will Waggott, said: "Today's announcement reflects the wider challenges seen on the high street, with more and more customers choosing to book online.

"These measures will help us to drive greater efficiencies across Thomas Cook so that we relentlessly focus our resources in those areas that give us the greatest opportunity to make a difference to customers in our core holiday offering.

"Looking ahead, we will be working to ensure that Thomas Cook is fit for the future, putting a rigorous focus on costs in a competitive environment while giving customers more reasons to holiday with the strongest brand in travel."

There are also Thomas Cook branches in South Shields, Hartlepool's Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, the MetroCentre and Durham City - but they are not on the list of those set for closure.