Club Med Parent Company Buys Thomas Cook Brand

Empty Thomas Cook check-in desk in Gatwick Airport, England
Empty Thomas Cook check-in desk in Gatwick Airport // Photo by AP Photo/Alastair Grant via Newscred

Club Med’s parent company has bought the U.K.-based travel brand Thomas Cook, which filed for insolvency in late September. 

The parent company, a Chinese firm called Fosun, has purchased the Thomas Cook brand for a little over $14 million, the New York Post reports, giving Fosun control of Thomas Cook’s websites, social media accounts and trademarks. In addition to owning Club Med, Fosun was also Thomas Cook’s largest shareholder before the purchase. 

“The acquisition of the Thomas Cook brand will enable the group to expand its tourism business building on the extensive brand awareness of Thomas Cook and the robust growth momentum of Chinese outbound tourism,” Fosun’s chairman, Qian Jiannong, told the Post. 

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While the brand may be headed to Fosun, parts of Thomas Cook have already been given new life by other U.K.-based travel agencies. Shortly after its insolvency filing Hays Travel, a U.K.-based independent travel agency, acquired all of the former Thomas Cook storefronts in the U.K., with plans to reopen as many as it can under Hays branding. Hays also recruited over 400 former Thomas Cook employees to staff its newly acquired storefronts. 

In a similar vein, Barrhead Travel, a wholly owned subsidiary of Travel Leaders Group, moved to rehire a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees. Barrhead, which had been acquired by Travel Leaders in Feabruary 2018, had been looking to expand, and the addition of the former Thomas Cook employees would allow Barrhead to open as many as 100 additional stores in the U.K., the company said at the time. That would more than double the brand’s current footprint, which comprised 76 stores at the time of the announcement. 

Thomas Cook, an iconic U.K.-based travel brand, filed for insolvency in late September, stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers abroad and prompting the UK’s largest repatriation effort since WWII. According to analysts familiar with the situation, a number of factors led to Thomas Cook’s collapse, some, like its accrued debt of approximately $2 billion, specific to the company. A decline in the value of the pound, which made overseas travel more expensive for those living in the U.K., as well as uncertainty regarding Brexit and even unusually hot weather depressing demand for sun-and-sand getaways, were also factors. 

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