LONDON — Hays Travel, an independent British travel agent, said on Wednesday that it had bought all 555 stores of Thomas Cook, one of the world’s oldest tour companies, which collapsed last month.
More than 25 percent of all former Thomas Cook employees who worked in retail have been hired as a result of the deal, which is expected to save up to 2,500 jobs, Hays said in a statement. The move will come as a major relief to many who found themselves unemployed overnight after Thomas Cook’s disintegration.
“Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand and a pillar of the U.K. and the global travel industry,” Irene Hays, the chairwoman of Hays Travel Group, said in the statement. “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.”
The company said it would add the former Thomas Cook locations to the 190 stores that Hays already owns across Britain.
Hays said that in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Thomas Cook, which left about 150,000 travelers from Britain in limbo, it had offered jobs to more than 600 of the defunct company’s employees.
Thomas Cook was placed in compulsory liquidation on Sept. 23.
Hays said it had worked with the British Civil Aviation Authority, which was responsible for repatriating those stranded abroad, to support travelers.
John Hays, Hays’ managing director, said the acquisition was a leap forward for his company.
“It is a game changer for us,” he said, “almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our work force — and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people.”