Cheltenham jobs at risk as Thomas Cook announces plans to cut 2,500 positions
STAFF at Thomas Cook branches in Cheltenham face an anxious wait to find out if their jobs are safe after the travel group announced it was cutting 2,500 jobs and closing 195 stores in the UK.
The world's oldest travel company, which has two stores in Cheltenham, and one in Tewkesbury and Cirencester, is making the cuts to try to return to profitability.
Thomas Cook's chief executive Harriet Green has been leading a turnaround plan at the company and announced aims to cut costs by a further £100 million last November, with £40 million coming from its airline business.
Thomas Cook said it had been hit by a difficult trading environment and higher fuel costs, having already shut 149 stores.
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It has also been affected by unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
Most of the job losses would impact workers across its retail network and in administrative positions, the company said.
Thomas Cook has more than 1,000 stores nationwide and employs 15,500 people throughout the UK.
A spokesman at Thomas Cook yesterday said staff would be consulted before it revealed which stores are to close.
In addition, more than 400 jobs are to go at the bed company Dreams, which has been bought out of administration by private equity group Sun Capital Partners.
While all jobs in Gloucestershire look secure, 93 stores will still close nationally.
Five staff from the firm's Cheltenham store, in Gallagher Retail Park and four employees from its Gloucester store, off Bristol Road, have been transferred after the purchase.
Joint administrator Alan Hudson, of Ernst & Young LLP, said: "Dreams is a well known market leader, but in common with many others has suffered as a result of this depressed retail environment."
A total of 171 Dreams stores, its head office and its two UK manufacturing facilities are to stay open, with more than 1,600 jobs transferred.
There is further bad news for the South West economy, with around 300 staff losing their jobs at Axminster Carpets after the company, which supplied Clarence House and Brighton Pavilion, went into administration earlier this week. The 250-year-old family-run business collapsed after a sharp increase in the cost of raw materials and a drop in sales.