'It's like coming home' - Thomas Cook in Great Yarmouth re-opens as Hays Travel
PUBLISHED: 18:00 05 November 2019
Great Yarmouth's Thomas Cook store has re-opened after the travel company was taken over by Hays Travel.
Four jobs were at risk when the shop inside Palmers department store closed in September, but all staff were offered a lifeline following the Hays buyout.
As it was three people were re-hired, and another employee who was made redundant in June was taken back on.
The Yarmouth shop is one of 450 of 555 former Thomas Cook shops to re-open so far.
Manager Natasha Woodrow, from Sprowston, said: "We were all hoping for the best and trying to be optimistic. We had gone through tough times before but it was disbelief when the company collapsed."
Paula Lusher, from Bungay, who lost her job as foreign exchange consultant in June, said she was delighted to get her job back, adding: "It was meant to be. It's like coming home."
Meanwhile Clare Thompson, from Gorleston, said she was job hunting and having no luck when the call came that Hays was taking everyone back on.
"It's so good to be back," she said.
"It's like we have never been away. The customers have been amazing. We have had more new people in than we thought and regulars have popped in to say hello and wave from the window."
Denise Coleman, who has worked at the shop for over 25 years, is also returning.
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However in the five weeks they were gone brochures were pulped and all the computers taken out so getting set up again has been a challenge.
The staff are waiting for their new navy uniforms and excited to sell different holidays.
Miss Woodrow said being able to sell Jet2 was having the biggest impact and while they were getting to grips with some new systems much of it was the same.
She added staff liked the idea of being part of a family run business with John and Irene Hays at the helm and very much part of the brand.
Thomas Cook collapsed on September 23 leaving 150,000 passengers stranded abroad.
It is estimated the independent travel agent has saved more than 2,000 jobs.
The travel agent had been inside Palmers for at least 30 years.
Tony Brown,CEO of Beales which owns Palmers, said: "We have six travel agents in our stores across the country but the Great Yarmouth one is the most successful by far."