Hays Travel has announced it will buy all of Thomas Cook's 555 shops in a move which could save 2,500 jobs.
The Sunderland-based travel agent had on Wednesday reached a deal to buy its rival's UK stores following Thomas Cook's collapse last month.
It marks a "game-changing" expansion for Hays, which currently operates out of 190 shops and employs 1,900 staff UK-wide.
Hays will buy the shops from the Official Receiver, which was appointed after Thomas Cook collapsed, and will look to re-employ former employees from Thomas Cook's retail operations.
Up to 2,500 jobs could be saved by the expansion, with around 100 based at the company's north east headquarters. Hays has already urged former Thomas Cook staff to apply, already recruiting more than 400.
Here is all you need to know about Hays Travel.
Who are Hays Travel?
Hays is the country's largest independent travel agent, and is currently based in Sunderland.
The company has 190 shops across the company, and employs just under 2,000 people in the UK.
In 2018 it reached sales of more than £1billion.
Who owns Hays Travel?
A private company, it is jointly owned and managed by managing director John Hays and his wife Irene Hays, who set up the firm 40 years ago.
Mr Hays said of the expansion: "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."
How do you apply for jobs there?
The company has already tweeted a link about applying for jobs, urging former Thomas Cook employees to apply and has said it wants to save as many jobs as it can.
Applicants are advised to ring the Hays Travel helpline or visit the careers section. Find out more here.
What do we know so far about Thomas Cook plans?
Hays told the BBC it planned to reopen all the shops with immediate effect, adding to the 190 stores to its portfolio.
The travel company said it will reopen the shops under its own brand as soon as possible. It has already recruited more than 400 former Thomas Cook employees and made other offers to the travel firm's ex-workers.
"We can now offer opportunities to more people," says a statement online. "We have already recruited over 400 talented former Thomas Cook employees and we are ready to welcome many more of the retail branch staff."
Jim Tucker, partner at KPMG, said this deal "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".
When applicants click through to the vacancies section of the website, they will be told that thanks to the deal "we can begin to re-open Thomas Cook stores, in their new Hays livery, from today".
"We aim to open as many as we logistically can as soon as possible," it adds.
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