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Business briefing: Thomas Cook blames Brexit turbulence for £1.5bn losses

Up for sale: Thomas Cook’s airline PICTURE: PA

THOMAS COOK yesterday blamed Brexit uncertainty as it revealed a £1.5billion half-year loss.

The holiday firm issued a profit warning as pre-tax losses rose £303million from the same period last year — with the second half of this year likely to be hit by a tough summer period.

Boss Peter Fankhauser said there was ‘now little doubt that the Brexit process has led many UK customers to delay their holiday plans for this summer’.

Thomas Cook’s first-half bookings were down 295,000 to 2.9million.

Mr Fankhauser also said the cash-strapped group has received ‘multiple’ bids for its airline, which was put up for sale in February to help shore up its finances, with bidders thought to include Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.

He warned that higher fuel and hotel costs was ‘creating further headwinds to our progress over the remainder of the year’. But Thomas Cook, which is axing 150 jobs from its head office, confirmed it had secured a new additional £300million financing deal.

Some of the steep losses came after a £1.1billion writedown on the value of MyTravel, which it revalued ‘in light of the weak trading environment’.

Mr Fankhauser said customers were ‘having a great deal this summer’ as a price war rages in the sector.

The group has sold 57 per cent of its summer holidays while tour operator bookings are down 12 per cent and airline bookings fell six per cent.

Ginsters on a roll as it joins vegan craze

Chick it out: The new Ginsters vegan pasty is filled with Moroccan spiced pulses and veg PICTURES: TRIANGLE NEWS

WITH its Cornish roots and 50-year history of traditional pasties, Ginsters is best known for its meaty products.

But after the success of the Greggs vegan sausage roll, the savoury snack maker is rolling out a vegan bake too.

Its Vegan Moroccan Vegetable Pasty — a spiced mix of butternut squash, chickpea, peppers, apricots and dates — goes on sale on Monday for £1.60 at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.

Created with Cornish Michelin star chef Chris Eden, the ‘fake bake’ is an update of the vegetarian version.

Dawn Carr, of Vegan Corporate Projects, hailed the pasty, saying: ‘Any business not catering to the booming vegan market is missing the boat.’

Homeowners looking to improve not move

HOMEOWNERS are increasing their mortgages and spending the money on improving their properties instead of moving.

The number of people borrowing extra on their mortgage has risen by just over nine per cent year-on-year, figures from UK Finance reveal. There were 16,810 re-mortgages in March — and the average amount was £55,700.

Experts said the trend reflects people choosing to ‘add value to their existing home rather than move’.

The number of first-time buyer mortgages fell 2.4 per cent to 28,800.

BUSINESS BITES

■ THE average 18- to 35-year-old works five hours a day — three hours less than their parents did at the same age, a survey for fitness network Hussle reveals. But 86 per cent said they still feel ‘stressed’.

■ OUR love of online shopping saw the express delivery market rocket, as we sent 3.65billion parcels last year. The sector’s sales rose 12 per cent to reach £12.6billion in 2018, according to research by Mintel.

■ THE Co-op is launching an app allowing customers to order repeat prescriptions online. The company is also trialling a ‘click and collect’ system where people can pick up prescriptions from lockers in stores.

■ BARCLAYS and RBS are among five banks fined a total £930million by the European Commission over a foreign exchange scandal. Citigroup, MUFG, and JP Morgan were also fined after traders discussed strategies online.

■ ASDA saw sales fall 1.1 per cent in the first three months of the year, as they were affected by a late Easter. But the supermarket, which failed to merge with Sainsbury’s last month, said online sales rose ten per cent.