1. ITV Report

Jobs at risk after Thomas Cook announces plans to close four stores in our region

Thomas Cook has announced plans to close 21 high street stores, including 4 in our region, resulting in 320 job losses.

The travel giant said the closures are part of plans to "streamline" its UK retail network under an efficiency programme, and to address changing customer behaviour.

The branches in Gosforth, North Shields, Sunderland and Peterlee are among those due to close.

The company pointed to the fact that more and more holidaymakers are switching online, with web bookings accounting for 64% of all Thomas Cook bookings in the UK last year.

Thomas Cook are 'streamlining' its retail network Credit: PA

Closures will result in Thomas Cook's retail estate reducing to 566 shops, with the jobs to be lost including 102 customer-facing roles and a further 218 store-based roles removed as part of the review.

A consultation process with the affected staff and unions has begun.

  • In a statement, Thomas Cook's chief of tour operating, Will Waggott, said:

Today's announcement reflects the wider challenges seen on the high street, with more and more customers choosing to book online.

These measures will help us to drive greater efficiencies across Thomas Cook so that we relentlessly focus our resources in those areas that give us the greatest opportunity to make a difference to customers in our core holiday offering.

Looking ahead, we will be working to ensure that Thomas Cook is fit for the future, putting a rigorous focus on costs in a competitive environment while giving customers more reasons to holiday with the strongest brand in travel.

– Thomas Cook's chief of tour operating, Will Waggott
Credit: PA

Thomas Cook has been hit by charges related to flight disruptions, writedowns on money owed by hotels and transformation costs.

It was also affected by delayed demand for its tour holidays due to the summer heatwave.