Thomas Cook: Delight for staff after jobs at former Chichester branch are saved

ks190592-1 Hays Chichester  phot kate 'Jo Cooke manager of Hays in Chichester and Lucie Phillips, assistant manager.ks190592-1 SUS-191028-170510008
ks190592-1 Hays Chichester phot kate 'Jo Cooke manager of Hays in Chichester and Lucie Phillips, assistant manager.ks190592-1 SUS-191028-170510008

The manager of the recently reopened former Thomas Cook shop in Chichester has spoken of her relief when she found out her job had been saved.

The former Thomas Cook branch in East Street was reopened to the public under new ownership and all staff members were ‘offered their positions back’, after Hays Travel bought 404 of the company’s collapsed network of shops.

Signs appeared on the window of the shop last week reading: “This store is now reopen as Hays Travel. Please come in and see us.” Read more here

Manager Jo Cooke said three of the five staff members chose to return.

She said: “We lost our jobs on September 23, when the company ceased trading. We suddenly had nothing.
“We thought about our customers first but when realisation kicked in, it was a shock and I didn’t know what I would do next. You start thinking about the skills you have and what other jobs you could do.

“The company has 9,000 staff, 2,000 retail staff. A Facebook page was set up for us all to support each other and stay in touch.”

Speaking of her relief when hundreds of jobs, including her own, were saved, Jo added: “We were delighted. We have had three staff members come back; me, assistant manager Lucie Phillips and Sue Clark. We will be likely looking for more staff to join us. 

“I am delighted to be back working in the same store with the same staff and customers. It’s great to be back helping customers. We felt guilty when we couldn’t help them. That was really sad and probably the hardest thing. The customers have been coming here for a long time and became friends. 

“I have worked here for 33 years, Sue for over 30 and Lucie for over 20. We are a group who have worked together for a long time so it was very hard when we lost our jobs.

“It is a lovely job to have and it gives you transferable skills but it has its challenge, like every other job.”

Jo said the company is ‘still in a transition period’ but reassured customers that ‘we are here if they need any help or advice’.

Hays, which is the country’s largest independent travel retailer, also has a shop in South Street. Both shops in the city will be kept open, ‘running as normal’, the company confirmed. 

A company spokesperson said: “We are delighted to confirm that the Chichester and Bognor Regis branches are two of the 404 former Thomas Cook [shops] that have now reopened as Hays Travel.”

Jo added: “Hays have been amazing. I want to thank Eileen and John [from the South Street store]. They have been really great.”