Hartlepool and Peterlee travel agent jobs safe

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STAFF at two travel agent branches can breath a sigh of relief after it was confirmed their jobs are safe amid national cuts.

It emerged on Wednesday that around 2,500 jobs are set to be axed at holidays group Thomas Cook after it revealed plans to close 195 of its high street travel agencies.

The job losses, 16 per cent of its 15,500 workforce in the UK and Ireland, will hit workers across its retail network as well as administration and back-office staff.

But group bosses have confirmed that the Thomas Cook shops in Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre and Peterlee’s Castle Dene Shopping Centre will not be losing any staff.

A spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that there are no stores are affected in the Hartlepool or Peterlee area.”

The firm has said that the moves are being made as part of a restructuring programme and to slash administration costs.

Having recently shut 149 stores, Thomas Cook will be left with 874 travel agencies across the UK and Northern Ireland.

Thomas Cook’s recently appointed UK and Ireland chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said the proposals will help return the group to profitability.

The firm slumped to a £590m loss in its last financial year and is working on plans to slash costs.

As well as shutting stores, the UK’s second-biggest travel company has trimmed its airline fleet and sold off hotels after it was forced to turn to its banks for an additional £200m of loans in 2011.