The world’s oldest travel agency is making a comeback.
According to a report by Rich Thomaselli in Travel Pulse online, the Thomas Cook company will return to business later this month after its brand name was purchased by another agency, Chinese-based Fosun Tourism, also the owner of Club Med.
The British agency collapsed in September leaving 2,500 jobs lost and triggering the rescue of 150,000 travelers from the United Kingdom — the largest repatriation of British citizens since World War II.
Fosun, which holds a major stake in Thomas Cook and had previously failed to negotiate a refinancing deal with creditors, had its bid approved this time when it guaranteed to buy the agency for £11million or roughly US$14.2 million, the report said.
“The acquisition of the Thomas Cook brand will enable the group to expand its tourism business building on the extensive brand awareness of Thomas Cook and the robust growth momentum of Chinese outbound tourism,” according to a statement from Fosun’s chairman, Qian Jiannong, who added that he “always believed in the brand value of Thomas Cook.”
Thomas Cook collapsed after an ambitious expansion plan to compete with online travel agencies.
The company had 555 brick-and-mortar stores in the United Kingdom. Another large British agency, Hays Travel, swooped in and bought the stores, hiring more than 400 ex-Thomas Cook employees, to take advantage of the situation to expand itself, the report said.
Ironically, it is being reported that the relaunched Thomas Cook will be an online-only agency.
Fosun’s buyout includes the takeover of the brand name, along with hotel brands Casa Cook and Cook’s Club.
Thomas Cook had struggled against fierce online competition for some time and blamed Brexit uncertainty for a drop in bookings before its collapse, the report said.
Thomas Cook was founded in 1841 in Derbyshire by an eponymous cabinet-maker, who took his first customers 12 miles by train from Leicester to a temperance meeting in Loughborough.