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Published on Friday, October 18, 2019

John and Irene Hays receive tens of thousands of letters from well wishers


John and Irene Hays have received tens of thousands of letters from members of the public congratulating them on taking on Thomas Cook's 555 shops.

Speaking to Jeremy Vine on his Radio 2 lunchtime show on Friday, the couple said they have been overwhelmed by the support.

"I'd like to say a huge thank you to the members of the public - tens of thousands of people who we don't know - who have written to us to say 'good on you'," said Irene.

The couple said they were confident they could make a success of the shops due to their lack of overheads.

"When you actually look at the 555 shops overall at branch level, they made a profit," said John.

"We have a very different overhead structure, and we've got no debt, so our model and structure is much leaner and more efficient."

Irene said Hays Travel was 'totally independent' and 'down to earth'.

"We're very close to our people," she said. "We're not a corporate. Some 43% of our senior managers started with us on apprenticeships. There's a high degree of empowerment."

She said the ex-Thomas Cook staff were being offered the same terms as the existing 2,000 staff to ensure parity.

Taking on the Thomas Cook shops has more than doubled the size of Hays' business from £1 billion to £2.2 billion.

The couple dismissed the view that the package holiday is dead, as shared by some commentators following Thomas Cook's demise.

"That's just not the case," said Irene.

"We sell hundreds of thousands of package holidays. In fact, there has been a resurgence in the last 8-10 years. There is still an enormous market for it and there will be for some time to come."

John Hays added that around 60-70% of customers who come into the company's high street stores have already interacted with the company online, either through its website or through social media.

"If we just sat and waited for people to come in, it would be different, but we have embraced the internet and social media. That's how people live in 2019."

Jeremy Vine wished the couple well but ended the interview saying it was still a gamble.

Click here to hear the full interview, which starts at around 1hr and 10 mins into the show. Only available for those with access to BBC online.

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  • Hays Travel

    I too wish John and wife good luck. Package holidays are not dead and there will always be a demand. As John knows, my company set out as a USA specialist some 40 years ago and was told that selling just ground only would not work....they all got that wrong. The tailor made holiday market is growing and I continue to believe in this product above all. I invite John and his staff to take advantage of our wealth of product and experience - he knows us well!

    By Peter Mackness, Monday, October 21, 2019

  • Not a clue

    So, commentators say the demise of TC means the package holiday is dead, clueless. The reason so many people could be brought back without issue was exactly because their holidays were packaged so covered by ATOL. If anything, the failure of TC will strengthen the package holiday market. DIY holidays are far riskier.

    By Keith Standen, Monday, October 21, 2019

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