Thomas Cook shop ‘to close’
THE Bridge Street branch of Thomas Cook has been identified as one of 200 outlets nationally earmarked for closure as the firm battles to turn around its ailing business.
The company, which has its head office in Bretton, announced yesterday it is proposing to close one of its two Peterborough city centre stores as part of plans to shut 200 outlets across the UK over the next two years.
The firm’s Queensgate store is set to remain open, but the seven staff at the Bridge Street shop face an uncertain future after the company started a 90-day consultation on the future of the branch.
The announcement came on the same day the company revealed a £398 million pre-tax loss in the year to September 30, compared with a £42 million profit for the same time last year.
This, it argued, was fuelled by poor trading in the UK and the civil unrest in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.
Ian Ailles, chief executive officer for Thomas Cook UK Mainstream, said: “We’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our retail network and today’s proposals will ensure that as the UK’S leading high street travel retailer we have the right stores in the right places for our customers.
“We will now be consulting with those affected colleagues and looking at redeployment opportunities.”
Yesterday, staff in 115 stores were told their branch was earmarked for closure, leading to the loss of 661 jobs.
The rest of the store closures will be announced over the next two years.
The Bridge Street store employs four full-time and three part-time workers.
It is the only outlet in Cambridgeshire to be earmarked for closure. Four others in Peterborough are unaffected, along with two in Huntingdon and one in Wisbech.
A store in Spalding and another in Stamford also escaped this first round of proposed closures.
The spokesman for the firm said the Bridge Street shop was approaching the end of its lease, which was a key factor why it was on the list.
Tony Wheeler, senior regional organiser with the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union, said the decision to close stores was a “logical step” for the struggling company.
He said: “We always knew they have accrued too many shops.”
He said he would be meeting with senior management staff today to discuss the consultation process and was “not impossible” they could change the company’s mind over stores proposed for closure.
To affected staff, he said: “Don’t despair because both the union and the company are trying their damnedest to ensure no compulsory redundancies will take place.”
City MP Stewart Jackson, who recently raised concerns about the plight of the holiday giant during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, said: “I’m very disappointed on behalf of the people who work in the retail outlet in Bridge Street.
“Having said that, most of the stores will only close at the expiration of their lease so it won’t be immediate.
“I hope Thomas Cook will be able to relocate those people within the Thomas Cook group.”
Rock STARS: Children from St John’s Primary School, who wrote their own rock songs and video. BUDDING rock stars have been making music at their school as part of a class project.
Children at St John’s Primary School in Riseholme, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough wrote their own songs before filming and producing a video for their hit record.
The Year 6 pupils even held their own ‘battle of the bands’ night, which saw Peterborough rockers Whiskey Jax perform on stage.
Class teacher Emma Carson said: “All the children had to write their own song about love, make a backing track using an ipad and then write their own lyrics.
“We then worked with sixth formers at Orton Bushfield Academy to use their studio equipment to make the video.
“All the songs and videos were absolutely brilliant and surpassed all our expectations.
“Whiskey Jax chose the winners, which were Flaming Lizards, but everyone did so well.”
PROPOSAL: Thomas Cook’s Bridge Street store has been earmarked for closure. (METP14-1211RH226). Picture: Rowland Hobson.