Cambridgeshire

Thomas Cook and Co-Op Travel merger gets final approval

Thomas Cook shop
Image caption Thomas Cook has promised savings of £35m a year from the merger

Plans by Peterborough-based travel firm Thomas Cook and the Co-Operative Group to merge their High Street travel agent businesses have been given the final go-ahead by the Competition Commission.

The commission has ruled that even with the firm's strong position customers were unlikely to pay more or have less choice as a result of the merger.

Thomas Cook said the merger would save the company £35m a year.

The company will own 70% of the new group.

Thomas Cook will be merging with both Co-Op Travel - which has its headquarters in Burslem, near Stoke - and the Midlands Co-Op, based in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Out of a total of 1,240 shops, Thomas Cook has 780, while 360 are currently run by Co-Op Travel, with the Midlands Co-Op owning a further 100.

The merger, provisionally backed in July, is expected to be completed by the end of September and could lead to store closures and job losses.

Problems in the UK have been one of the reasons behind Thomas Cook's disastrous last 12 months, a year that has seen its share price slump by 70%.

A strategic review of its UK business is underway as it looks at the mix of holidays it offers and the utilisation of its airline fleet.

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