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Former Thomas Cook store opens under new ownership

PUBLISHED: 10:58 02 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:19 02 November 2019

The team at the newly opened Hays Travel shop in Norwich, previously Thomas Cook, toast the store opening. Photo: Bethany Wales

The team at the newly opened Hays Travel shop in Norwich, previously Thomas Cook, toast the store opening. Photo: Bethany Wales

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Thomas Cook employees who lost their jobs when the firm went bust earlier this year are celebrating their first day working in the new Norwich Hays Travel store.

The team at the newly opened Hays Travel shop in Norwich, previously Thomas Cook, toast the store opening. Photo: Bethany WalesThe team at the newly opened Hays Travel shop in Norwich, previously Thomas Cook, toast the store opening. Photo: Bethany Wales

The store is located in the old Thomas Cook shop on Brigg Street, and will employ all nine of its former staff members.

At a bucks fizz reception on Saturday morning, the team said it was excited for the next chapter in what had been a roller coaster year.

Manager Amanda Smith, who worked for Thomas Cook for more than ten years before the company went under in September, said she was blown away by the speed at which holiday company Hays Travel had sorted jobs for former Thomas Cook staff.

READ MORE: Thomas Cook shops to reopen across Norfolk thanks to rescue deal

She said: "It was devastating when we heard the news about Thomas Cook. We saw it on the news that morning and none of us knew what was going to happen. Having to go to the job centre was really upsetting. But John and Irene who own Hays have been amazing. It's hard to quadruple the size of your business overnight and I've been really impressed with their speed and professionalism."

Former Thomas Cook employees Emma Cossey, Cathy Leverett, Amanda Smith, Helent Taylor, Nicole Fisk, Claire Chilvers, Aimee Hurn, at the Hays Travel opening in Norwich. Photo: Bethany WalesFormer Thomas Cook employees Emma Cossey, Cathy Leverett, Amanda Smith, Helent Taylor, Nicole Fisk, Claire Chilvers, Aimee Hurn, at the Hays Travel opening in Norwich. Photo: Bethany Wales

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Although the shop is still emblazoned with the Thomas Cook logo, employees said their jobs would change substantially following the Hays buyout.

Claire Chilvers said: "Whereas with Thomas Cook we were only able to book tours organised by them, now we can book with other providers. The customer service will be the same but we'll have much more flexibility in what we can offer."

The team said it hopes its regular customer base, built up over the past decade, would continue to support the team.

Mrs Smith said: "Since the soft opening of the shop on Wednesday we've had lots of old customers sticking their heads round the door to check that specific members of staff are still working. The support has been really reassuring."

Thomas Cook collapsed on September 23, leaving around 150,000 passengers stranded abroad and thousands of staff jobless.

But following a buy out by Hays Travel, more than 186 Thomas Cook shops have reopened, including the branch inside Tesco at Sprowston.

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