Global travel group Thomas Cook collapsed into administration in the early hours of this morning, resulting in the immediate closure of its 550 high street tour operator outlets, including 13 in Manchester, 10 in Liverpool and three in Preston.
The 178-year old business had been seeking an emergency £200m over the weekend which saw it request a £150m bail-out from the Government, which was declined.
Thomas Cook operated airlines, as well as its high street presence.
A statement on the Thomas Cook website said: “Thomas Cook UK Plc and associated UK entities have entered compulsory liquidation and are now under the control of the official receiver. The UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays are cancelled. A dedicated support service is being provided by the Civil Aviation Authority to assist customers currently overseas and those in the UK with future bookings.”
KPMG is acting as administrator to the tour operating business.
Thomas Cook had been facing financial difficulties for some time, which it blamed on the increase in shoppers booking holidays online. The company announced in March that it would be closing 21 stores, making 330 redundancies, in a cost saving exercise.
Thomas Cook employed 3,000 people in Manchester and was headquartered in the city. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham issued a plea to the Government on Sunday morning: “Given that this affects so many people in Greater Manchester, I am calling on the Prime Minister to intervene today and do all he can today to save this great name of the British high street.”
However, in confirming the Government would not be bailing out Thomas Cook, prime minister Boris Johnson said the decision presented a “moral hazard”.
The Government is now partnering with the Civil Aviation Authority to execute what transport secretary Grant Schapps described as “the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history”, to bring back the 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad.
Alongside stores in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston, Thomas Cook was a well-known presence across towns in the North West, with shops closed in locations including Altrincham, Birkenhead, Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Lancaster, Wirral and Wilmslow.