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 firstname.lastname@example.org