Princess Cruises hires ex-Thomas Cook national sales and event manager

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Princess Cruises has recruited Natasha Lizardos as sales operations manager on a 12-month contract.

Lizardos, who worked for Thomas Cook for 20 years, will step into the current sales operations manager Mark Lowman’s position when he fills in for UK senior sales manager Karen Farndell in January.

As part of a temporary reshuffle, Farndell will replace Rachel Poultney, Princess’ sales director for UK & Europe, who is due to take maternity leave in the new year.

Lizardos (pictured) will report into Lowman and be responsible for online training, online and offline campaign collateral, events and communications for the trade.

Her role will be underpinned by the line’s “Princess Agent Promise”, which has three pledges: be easy to do business with; rewards its partners and provide agents with brand knowledge.

Lizardos was national sales and event manager at Thomas Cook, where she had also been regional cruise expert and managed various stores.

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice-president for the UK and Europe, said: “We are delighted to welcome someone with Natasha’s skills and experience to the team with so much on the horizon for us.

“At the same time, I’m pleased we are giving such talented team members as Karen and Mark the opportunity to step up.

“This is the perfect time for them to take on high profile roles as we look to further bolster our relationship with the trade.”

Lizardos added: “I bring a wealth of cruise and retail knowledge and experience from my time with Thomas Cook and look forward to engaging with all our trade partners and agents in the coming months, providing them with all the tools they need to sell this fantastic premium cruise brand.”

Hays Travel to acquire entire Thomas Cook retail estate

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The agreement will see Hays Travel acquire a total of 555 stores around the UK, providing re-employment opportunities for up to 2,500 former staff who were made redundant following the collapse of the travel giant on September 23.

More than 100 new jobs will be based at the company’s Sunderland headquarters with the rest in shops across the UK.

Hays Travel has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff and has further offered outstanding to former employees.

The deal will take Hays’ shop network to 745.

Hays signed a deal with the Official Receiver and liquidators KPMG today.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was understood Barrhead Travel, Midcounties Co-operative, Millington Travel, Polka Dot Travel and Miles Morgan Travel were also among retailers to have lodged bids with the liquidators of Thomas Cook for its former stores.

Chair Irene Hays said:  “Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand and a pillar of the UK and the global travel industry.   We will build on the good things Thomas Cook had – not least its people – and that will put us in even better stead for the future.

“We all share a passion for the travel industry and we want to continue to build the company’s reputation for the first-class service and being a great place to work and develop a career.”

Managing director John Hays said: “Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help.

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“In the last two weeks we have already employed or offered jobs to around 600 former Thomas Cook colleagues, and it has been a very emotional experience for them.  Now that we are able to re-open the shops, we are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry, into our family business.

“I’m very proud of the fantastic team who have helped me build Hays Travel over almost 40 years and they have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to bring this about.  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.”

David Chapman, official receiver, said: “I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement with Hays Travel to acquire Thomas Cook’s entire UK retail estate, comprising 555 stores across the country. This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company’s assets.”

Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG and joint special manager of Thomas Cook’s retail division, said: “This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement. It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street. We are pleased to have achieved this in a short time frame and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is a testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties.

“Over the weeks ahead, we will work closely with Hays Travel and landlords to ensure a smooth transition of the store estate.”

Hays has been operating for 40 years and reached sales of more than £1bn in 2018.

The team supporting Hays in the deal included lawyers Muckle LLP, financial advisers White Hart Associates and property consultants Identity Consult.

The union representing Thomas Cook retail staff welcomed the deal and said it is seeking an “urgent meeting with Hays”.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We have been clear from the start that Thomas Cook was a strong brand and that it was likely parts of the business would be able to move forward as a going concern.

“Throughout the industry, the talent, commitment and skills of our members working for Thomas Cook was well known and I have no doubt they will bring the same dedication to Hays.”

Thomas Cook ceases trading after failing to salvage rescue deal

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Travel giant Thomas Cook has collapsed after last-minute efforts to secure a rescue deal failed.

The 178-year-old business ceased trading with 600,000 overseas, including 150,000 from the UK.

The CAA is to begin the biggest-ever repatriation of UK travellers with more than 45 aircraft sourced from around the world.

German authorities face organising even bigger repatriation with up to 300,000 Germans abroad on Cook holidays.

The Thomas Cook board called in administrators after running out of options to keep the business afloat. A senior industry source said: “The board could not keep the wheels spinning. They had a legal duty.”

Thomas Cook’s failure leaves 20,000 staff, including 9,000 in the UK, out of work.

The insolvency was timed to kick in once the group’s entire fleet of aircraft was on the ground in the early hours of Monday.

The holidays of those due to fly out from today have been cancelled leaving hundreds of thousands to apply for refunds.

Chaos and confusion are expected at airports, as people turn up for cancelled services or to enquire about flights home, and at the more than 3,000 hotels used by Thomas Cook – most of which will be owed money by the group.

The group was set to be rescued in a deal worth £900 million which would have seen Fosun taking control of 75% of the company’s tour operating the business and up to 25% of its airline in exchange for a £450 million capital injection.

Debt holders and lending banks would put up the remaining £450 million in exchange for control of Thomas Cook’s airline and up to 25% of the tour operator.

The deal, which had been pushed back once, was due to be voted on by creditors and stakeholders on September 27.

But last week Thomas cook’s lending banks, led by Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds demanded it finds an additional £200 million in contingency funding.

This demand for “a seasonal standby facility” followed fresh advice from financial consultants working for the banks which suggested Cook risked running out of cash once more by late 2020.