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Business briefing: Thousands of Thomas Cook jobs saved by Hays buyout

HAYS Travel has agreed to buy 555 of Thomas Cook’s stores in the UK, saving up to 2,500 jobs.

Hays, the country’s largest independent travel agent, has already hired 421 Thomas Cook staff members since the 178-year-old company went out of business last month.

Hays now plans to reopen the shops — saving up to 2,500 jobs — and fill another 100 jobs at its Sunderland headquarters.

‘It is a game-changer for us — almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce — and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people,’ said founder John Hays.

‘We are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry.’

Thomas Cook folded on September 23 after failing to secure a rescue deal. The company’s collapse put 21,000 workers out of a job and left 150,000 passengers stranded abroad. ‘This is an extremely positive outcome and we are delighted to have secured this agreement,’ said Jim Tucker, a KPMG partner who began managing Thomas Cook’s retail division after the failure.

He said administrators would work with Hays to ‘ensure a smooth transition’.

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom welcomed the news, saying Thomas Cook’s demise had been ‘hugely distressing’ and she hoped the sale ‘will provide significant re-employment opportunities for former Thomas Cook employees’.

Hays, which is paying an undisclosed sum for the shops, was founded 40 years ago in Co. Durham. Last year, it reached £1billion in sales, and has 190 shops and 1,900 employees.

Manuel Cortes, of the TSSA union representing Thomas Cook’s store workers, said he hoped to meet with Hays to figure out how the union could help with the ‘significant expansion’.

Aisle not shop there! Beef about vegan food in the meat section

Plant plan: Vegan choices next to meat PICTURE: JOHN LUCAS/TWITTER

VEGANS have slammed Tesco for putting plant-based dishes in the butcher’s aisle.

Products such as soya goujons and fish-free fillets are set to be in meat aisles in 450 stores, to ‘offer flexitarians an alternative’ to meat. But some vegans questioned why they had to shop ‘beside dead animals’.

Tesco’s Derek Sarno said: ‘The biggest impact we can make as individuals is to eat more plants. We’re making that easier than ever.’ But one social media user, Lisa Richmond, posted: ‘Surely I’m not the only person who just doesn’t look at the meat section because why would I?’

Soy-ing red: One shopper is ‘disgusted’ with Tesco’s move

And another, Sylvia, said: ‘Disgusted that you are making us vegans shop beside dead animal flesh just to encourage meat eaters.’

However, Danielle Saunders, of the Vegan Society, said the move shows shoppers ‘how easy it is to make compassionate choices’.

We waste 30 days a year on office inbox

BROWSING emails ‘wastes’ around 30 work days a year — costing us up to five hours of productivity every week.

Office workers typically spend about two hours a day going through their inbox, a study of 2,000 found. But half that time is wasted by re-reading messages, checking for updates and sending emails instead of speaking to people.

‘People constantly check emails when they don’t need to and it is making work harder by unnecessarily taking time,’ said Andy Dunbar, of SoftwareONE, which carried out the study as part of National Work Life Week.

BUSINESS BITES

■ BT has pledged to upgrade 700,000 homes and businesses to faster broadband by next summer. It plans to boost average speeds from 10Mbps to 50Mbps, with improved wi-fi delivered through upgraded smart hubs.

■ B&Q owner Kingfisher has hired Bernard Bot as its new finance chief amid a refresh at the top of the DIY group. Mr Bot was previously chief financial officer at global technology company Travelport Worldwide.

■ EARNINGS at Ladbrokes owner GVC Holdings are set to be higher than forecast due to online growth. It expects to see pre-tax earnings of £670million-£680million for 2019 — but still plans to shut 900 stores.

■ ABOUT six in ten homes are exempt from stamp duty or a similar tax for first-time buyers. Bootle, Merseyside, has the most at 99.6 per cent. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, has just 1.7 per cent, Zoopla finds.

■ A ‘RELENTLESS’ drive by supermarkets to cut costs and maximise profits is fuelling poverty, abuse and gender discrimination on foreign farms in their supply chains, according to an Oxfam report.