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Thomas Cook saviour Hays creates 1,500 new jobs

By August Graham, PA City Reporter

The family-run business that bought Thomas Cook’s high street stores after the tour operator collapsed will take on 1,500 new staff to help it fill its new stores, and provide back-up at its Sunderland headquarters.

Hays Travel, run by husband-and-wife pair John and Irene Hays, said it was looking for 500 new currency exchange staff at the new shops.

The company will also take on 737 apprentices, one for each of its branches across the UK, and 200 new posts at its head office in Sunderland.

“We have always recruited, supported and developed young people – they are the future of our industry. We are looking forward to expanding our apprenticeship programme and making sure there’s at least one travel apprentice on most of the UK’s high streets,” Mr Hays said.

Hays said it had offered permanent jobs to 2,330 former employees of Thomas Cook and has opened 450 of the failed agent’s stores since buying them out of administration.

“The former Thomas Cook managers have said the biggest difference for them is being empowered and valued – as an independent travel agent they are not tied to certain products or scripts and they feel trusted,” Mr Hays said.

It marks a remarkable growth spurt for Hays Travel, which will have 5,700 employees after the recruitment drive ends. It employed around a third of that just two months ago.

Hays surprised many in October when it said it was taking charge of all of Thomas Cook’s 555 travel agents across the UK, saving thousands of staff from losing their jobs.

It came after the 178-year-old firm went out of business in late September, months after reporting a £1.5 billion loss.

The collapse sparked calls from MPs to berate former bosses at the company.

Former chief executive Peter Fankhauser told a Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee hearing he was “deeply sorry” for the company’s fate.