Thomas Cook shop ‘to close’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk&world Update - By DAVID SEY­MOUR david.sey­mour@pe­ter­bor­oughto­

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.

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