Thomas Cook: Relief for staff at former Bognor Regis branch after jobs are saved

Colleagues at the former Thomas Cook branch in Bognor, who have 'become a family', can continue working together after their jobs were saved.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 5:21 pm
Store managerJustin Burton with long-standing staff members Karen Spiers and Joanne Almond
Store managerJustin Burton with long-standing staff members Karen Spiers and Joanne Almond

The former Thomas Cook branch in London Road was re-opened to the public under new ownership, and all staff members were offered their positions back, after Hays Travel bought 404 of the company’s collapsed network of shops.

A spokesperson for Hays Travel, which now has two stores in London Road, said: "We are delighted to confirm that the Chichester and Bognor Regis branches are two of the 404 former Thomas Cook that have now reopened Hays Travel.

"Please pop in to say hello to the staff and welcome them back whenever they open their doors.

"Both [Hays Travel] shops are now open [in Bognor] and all original staff will have been invited back."

Store manager Justin Burton said the initial closure of the Thomas Cook store in September 'came out of nowhere'.

"We didn't know it was closing," he said. "I had told everyone not to worry about the speculation and we closed overnight.

"I had a conference call at 6am the next morning. It was like bang, and we had nothing. We were all very surprised.

"I had only been here for a year and a bit but some of my colleagues had been here for 20/30 years. You become a family, so it's not just a job.

"It was very difficult. It was out of the blue. We had only just brought in new uniforms and new computers. Things were on the up. We found out last Monday morning that they wanted us to re-open the next day."

Justin said customers have 'already come in thanking us for re-opening'.

He added: "It is a nice position to be in. It definitely is [a happy ending to the story].

"We are trying to get back into the swing of things. We're not yet sure if the two stores will merge or remain separate but we've been reassured that will all keep our jobs either way."