Bright future for town travel shop rescued by family firm

Staff in the Sleaford branch of a family-run travel firm are excited about the future after it hit the headlines when it rescued hundreds of Thomas Cook stores from closure.
Hays travel staff at their Sleaford branch, from left - Shaun, Corrinne - assistant manager, Sarah - manager and Abigail. EMN-201002-181342001Hays travel staff at their Sleaford branch, from left - Shaun, Corrinne - assistant manager, Sarah - manager and Abigail. EMN-201002-181342001
Hays travel staff at their Sleaford branch, from left - Shaun, Corrinne - assistant manager, Sarah - manager and Abigail. EMN-201002-181342001

Sunderland-based Hays Travel bought up and set about re-opening all 555 of the stores forced to close when the historic, but debt-burdened travel agent collapsed into receivership towards the end of last year.

The Sleaford shop in Bristol Arcade re-opened on January 6 this year with a completely new staff of five, after previous employees found new positions elsewhere.

Assistant manager Corrinne Simmons said: “Everyone has been really supportive, saying how glad they are we are open. I think that is because they have heard about the owners, John and Irene Hays and their story as a family business which started from nothing. It is fantastic and something people want to hear. We also sell a great brand and hope that will get people to come in.

“It is such a family-orientated business, looking after staff wellbeing and welfare. They are really supportive with staff marketing and training.

“John Hays started off behind his mum’s shop in Sunderland and now he’s a millionaire taking on all 555 of Thomas Cook’s stores. They are very laid back and funny and it spreads through the business. We are more a family than a team and hopefully if we are happy we will all work and help to make the customer happy.”

Corinne said they had not had a visit from the boss yet but was confident he would get round to it.

They soon plan to hold an official open day with some culinary tastes from a few of the destinations on offer as an ice-breaker.

Being independent they offer a wider range of tours and packages, cruises as well as UK breaks and will be providing travel money soon.

Corinne said: “Trade has not been bad considering not everyone has realised we are open yet.”

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