25 JULY 2011
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Whilst the Competition Commission has been deeply involved with the British airport situation it has also been called upon to look at the high street travel outlets.
Last week the body provisionally approved the link-up of Thomas Cook with the Co-operative Group and Midlands Co-operative Society, a gathering of associated interests rather than a break-up. Thomas Cook itself currently operates 780 stores across the country, while the Co-op has 360 travel shops and the Midlands 100. Once finalised, the deal will bring together three of the biggest travel agents presently operating in the UK. Thomas Cook will contribute its retail travel agency business to the joint venture but not its tour operating business or its internet travel agency businesses. The equity split will be 70%/30% in Thomas Cook’s favour.
The deal will also create the second biggest high street foreign exchange business after the Post Office.
The statement could not have come at a better time for the 170-year-old travel company, struggling in a difficult market. Share prices have plummeted from £2 at the start of the year, to 72p at the close on Friday 22 July. Prior to the announcement they stood at 68.45p. www.thomascook.com
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