Bright future for town travel shop rescued by family firm

Hays travel staff at their Sleaford branch, from left - Shaun, Corrinne - assistant manager, Sarah - manager and Abigail. EMN-201002-181342001
Hays travel staff at their Sleaford branch, from left - Shaun, Corrinne - assistant manager, Sarah - manager and Abigail. EMN-201002-181342001

Staff in the Sleaford branch of a family-run travel firm are excited about the future after it hit the headlines when it rescued hundreds of Thomas Cook stores from closure.

Sunderland-based Hays Travel bought up and set about re-opening all 555 of the stores forced to close when the historic, but debt-burdened travel agent collapsed into receivership towards the end of last year.

The Sleaford shop in Bristol Arcade re-opened on January 6 this year with a completely new staff of five, after previous employees found new positions elsewhere.

Assistant manager Corrinne Simmons said: “Everyone has been really supportive, saying how glad they are we are open. I think that is because they have heard about the owners, John and Irene Hays and their story as a family business which started from nothing. It is fantastic and something people want to hear. We also sell a great brand and hope that will get people to come in.

“It is such a family-orientated business, looking after staff wellbeing and welfare. They are really supportive with staff marketing and training.

“John Hays started off behind his mum’s shop in Sunderland and now he’s a millionaire taking on all 555 of Thomas Cook’s stores. They are very laid back and funny and it spreads through the business. We are more a family than a team and hopefully if we are happy we will all work and help to make the customer happy.”

Corinne said they had not had a visit from the boss yet but was confident he would get round to it.

They soon plan to hold an official open day with some culinary tastes from a few of the destinations on offer as an ice-breaker.

Being independent they offer a wider range of tours and packages, cruises as well as UK breaks and will be providing travel money soon.

Corinne said: “Trade has not been bad considering not everyone has realised we are open yet.”