Scotland business

Thomas Cook to close 18 Scottish branches

Thomas Cook bookings down
Image caption Thomas Cook is to close 18 branches in Scotland with the loss of 84 jobs

Travel group Thomas Cook has said it intends to close 18 stores in Scotland with the loss of 84 jobs.

The company announced on Wednesday it was to cut 2,500 jobs in the UK and close almost 200 stores as it attempts to revive its profitability amid a "difficult trading environment".

A majority of the branches affected are in small towns and villages.

In the last financial year to September, Thomas Cook reported pre-tax losses of £485.3m.

Thomas Cook has already closed 149 stores across the UK.

A 90-day consultation process with employees has already begun.

Joanna Wild, managing director of the Thomas Cook Co-operative retail network, said: "As a large retailer we regularly review our network to make sure we have the right stores in the right places for our customers and regrettably there are occasions where we need to close certain branches.

"Following careful consideration, we have announced that eighteen stores are proposed to close in Scotland and we are working with those colleagues who are affected.

"We'd like to thank both our colleagues and customers for the commitment and understanding during this process."

Thomas Cook got into difficulty in 2011, when the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa affected its extensive operations in Egypt and Tunisia.

The company has since struggled with high debt and the wider downturn in the global travel sector. It has debts of about £788m.

In May 2012, the group secured a £1.4bn refinancing package, giving it a further three years to repay its debts.

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