AFTER battling a financial headwind for the past 12 months, Britain’s oldest travel agency has finally flown into insolvency – leaving around 150,000 UK holidaymakers stranded abroad.

The insolvency of Thomas Cook also puts the future of over 500 High Street stores, as well as an estimated 10,000 jobs, hanging in the air.

It follows the failure of last-ditch talks to rescue the group from insolvency, triggering travel chaos for holidaymakers not just from Yorkshire and the North East but the whole of Europe.

The travel giant dates back to 1841, but its collapse into formal insolvency procedures means the future of the historic brand is now in doubt, after its business recovery plan failed to take off.

Before its insolvency, the travel company’s fleet of aircraft flew out of Newcastle Airport and, until recently, Leeds and Bradford Airport.

But it was as the go-to tour operator for many families from across Yorkshire and the North East for which it was best known – offering holidays, cruises, flights and hotels.

Ahead of its collapse into insolvency, the travel agency had expanded to forge a strong High Street presence across Yorkshire and the North East, with a network boasting dozens of stores.

Its shops across Yorkshire and the North East included: Barnsley, Beverley, Berwick-on-Tweed, Bishop Auckland, Bradford, Brighouse, Castleford, Catterick Garrison, Cleckheaton, Darlington, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Driffield, and Durham.

Plus those in Gateshead, Grimsby, Halifax, Harrogate, Hartlepool, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Hull, Ilkley, Keighley, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Mirfield, Morpeth, Newcastle, Ossett, Pontefract, Pudsey, Redcar, Rotherham, Sheffield, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland, Wakefield, Washington and York.

In some towns and cities, it was based in multiple locations. Leeds, for example, had seven stores –   each one a victim of the insolvency and now closed as part of the administration process.

The insolvency has resulted in the biggest repatriation of Brits abroad since World War Two.

Leeds and Bradford airport-based Jet2, the airline that also operates out of Newcastle, is among those called into action by the Government to help bring holidaymakers home.

Thomas Cook’s insolvency is a far cry from its first excursion, a rail journey from Leicester in central England to the neighbouring town of Loughborough. Then, a special train carried some 500 passengers a distance of 12 miles and back for a temperance (anti-alcohol) meeting.

In its heyday, when insolvency was not on its horizon, Thomas Cook was the sponsor of Manchester City, its iconic brand seen worldwide on the shirts of players and fans alike.

Fast forward to the present day, and this is the second insolvency blow to Yorkshire and North East holidaymakers in as many years after Monarch Airlines, with bases at Leeds-Bradford and Newcastle airports, was grounded back in 2017.

Insolvency experts are now keeping a weather eye on other major players in the UK travel sector, as they grapple with increasingly turbulent times – in part caused by uncertainty and financial difficulties over Brexit.

Whether there are blue skies ahead, or gathering insolvency storm clouds, remains to be seen.

But for those booking holidays in the future, it may now be more of a case of sun, sea, sand – and, above all, solvency – that form the ultimate holiday getaway.

Here at Walsh Taylor, when financial difficulties arise, we’ll put time on your side.

For more information on how our licensed insolvency practitioners and business recovery teams in Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and Darlington can help you, please call us on 03300 244 660 or email confidential@walshtaylor.co.uk

Mary Taylor
Director

Mary began working in insolvency for a national accountancy practice in Glasgow thirty years ago and worked in most divisions of the insolvency department.

She then moved to a smaller firm so she could advance her knowledge on a more hands on basis. She moved back to Leeds in 1987 and commenced working with a small firm of accountants and subsequently made partner.

She left in 1999 to set up her own practice, McCann Taylor.
McCann Taylor became involved with the consumer market both in England and Scotland.

Mary sold McCann Taylor in March 2007 and formed Walsh Taylor to concentrate on helping businesses experiencing financial difficulties.

Kate Ellis (neé Breese)
Director

Kate has worked in insolvency since 2001 starting out at a firm of solicitors in Leeds and latterly gaining positions within two national accountancy firms.

During this time Kate gained extensive experience in all aspects of personal and corporate insolvency, for the first part of her career specializing in personal insolvency and latterly corporate.

Kate has been with Walsh Taylor since its incorporation in September 2008, being promoted to Director in January 2010.

Kate is CPI and JIEB qualified, is experienced in a variety of industries and sectors and is the firm’s joint appointment taker.

Meg Heath
Director

Meg has a background in supporting SMEs, including the raising of finance and advising on organisational change. She is a non-executive director of companies in the private and third sector, including Walsh Taylor.

Previously she was Deputy Fund Director of one of the largest CDFIs in the UK, and has experience of the social enterprise, charity and private sectors. Her experience of assisting companies to survive and thrive has been gained across a broad range of sectors and in companies of all sizes.

In addition to her work at Walsh Taylor she works for other private companies, including non-executive and trustee positions.

Emma Mifsud
Director

After graduating from Leeds University in 2005 with a BA Hons degree in Criminology, Emma worked for a regional law firm in both the property department and insolvency and banking department. Whilst doing so Emma gained a Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP University.

Emma then joined a national accountancy firm in 2009 gaining experience in personal insolvency before moving to a Leeds based firm. At this firm Emma specialised in bankruptcies, IVA’s and negotiating informal agreements with creditors. In 2013 Emma gained her CPI qualification.

Since joining the firm in December 2013, Emma has taken on a portfolio of personal and corporate insolvency cases to extend her knowledge and expertise in all areas of insolvency.

In December 2017 Emma become a licensed appointment taker under the Insolvency Practitioners Association, she is JIEB qualified.

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