Ex-Thomas Cook employees delighted as Hays Travel steps in to preserve their jobs

TRAVEL agents who could have been looking at a new career path have been able to stay in the industry they love.

Sunday, 10th November 2019, 5:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 3:23 pm
The Hays Travel team celebrates the Gosport store opening with friends, family and customers. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Following the collapse of Thomas Cook last month, travel agents from across the Portsmouth region were concerned about the future of their jobs.

But after Hays Travel stepped in, former Thomas Cook stores in Portsmouth, Southsea, Waterlooville, Fareham and Gosport have all been reopened.

The Gosport store was officially opened to the public on Saturday, November 9.

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From left, Kirstie Meades-Marshall, Zoe Munroe and Emma Jenkins at the new Hays Travel in Gosport. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

At the helm are former Thomas Cook staff members Kirstie Meades-Marshall and Zoe Munroe, alongside ex-Tui employee Emma Jenkins, who is the assistant manager.

Kirstie said: ‘I started at Thomas Cook when I was 17 years old – I went straight from college into the travel industry.

‘I flew out on holiday the day before the company went into administration, and found out about it at 6am the following morning.

‘I was heartbroken – I’ve never known anything different from travel, it’s been my life and I’ve always been really passionate about it.’

The mayor of Gosport, Cllr Kathleen Jones, cuts the ribbon to open the new store. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Kirstie and countless other employees were then put on the job hunt, exploring options for a future career.

She looked at a number of options, including a coffee shop further up the high street, before Hays Travel stepped in and brought her back to the job she loves.

‘I didn’t know what to do with myself,’ she said.

‘When it was announced that Hays Travel would be buying out the old Thomas Cook stores, it was music to my ears.

‘Being back here is like putting your feet in an old pair of slippers.’

Kirstie was told by Hays Travel that she could hand-pick her team, and with news that Tui would be closing in Gosport in December, she brought Emma Jenkins on board as her assistant manager, as well as Zoe Munroe who she knew from Thomas Cook.

More job opportunities will follow.

Emma said: ‘It’s much more relaxed with Hays Travel – they’ve just let us get on with things. We’re starting from scratch but can create out own brand as recognisable faces in the town.

‘Already we’ve had some of our old customers come in and it’s been really nice to see them.’