Published on Friday, March 20, 2020

Kuoni confirms 70 head office and retail job losses just hours after asking staff to take pay cuts

Kuoni has made 70 head office and retail staff redundant just hours after asking all employees to accept 20% pay cuts and unpaid leave. It had also asked for staff to apply for voluntary redundancy.

A spokeswoman said the losses amounted to around one person for each of Kuoni's 48 stores, plus some staff from its Dorking office. It said staff affected were those with less than two years' service and TravelMole understands this includes some former Thomas Cook retail staff who only joined the company late last year following Thomas Cook's collapse.

Yesterday afternoon, Kuoni said staff had been asked to accept voluntary cost-cutting measures. It also announced a reduction in marketing spend and that it was cancelling outdoor events and re-negotiating lease agreements on its stores.

In the statement, Kuoni CEO Derek Jones, who is taking a 30% pay cut, said: "My first priority right now is the health and wellbeing of our team and I will take every possible action to ensure that they and their families are as well protected as possible. 

"We are taking steps to encourage homeworking for head office staff and we've also changed the arrangements for our retail stores so our team are available to support customers and make bookings for them over the phones but for the time being we are limiting face-to-face meetings so have closed the doors of all shops.

"As a worldwide tour operator we have witnessed the slow elimination of all of our destinations, beginning with China and Italy and culminating in the FCO advice against all international travel earlier this week. 

"The response of all staff at Kuoni and our specialist businesses has been extraordinary.  It's a huge privilege to lead this business and right now I've never been prouder of all they are doing to support our customers.  

"But we're having to do things I never thought we would have to do and make decisions I never thought we would have to make and everyone has been outstanding in their energy, commitment and loyalty."

Jones stressed the need for the business to 'act quickly' to reduce costs.  "By coming together collectively to reduce pay and hours across the board we hope to protect as many jobs as we possibly can," he added. 

"Our aim is to look to the future, to protect the health of our people, our customers and our business and do all we can to keep flying the flag for the travel industry so we are here in great shape ready and waiting for when people are ready to go on holiday again." 

However, some people on social media were angry at news of the redundancies, saying the company had been 'too quick to swing the axe' and that it should have waited for government support. One member of  staff said they had been told to leave just hours after being reassured their job was safe. However, others on social meda were sympathetic, acknowleding the dire financial situation confronting some travel businesses due to the Foreign Office travel ban.

The company spokeswoman confirmed today that staff affected were the ones who had joined most recently, adding: "This is the most challenging time the travel industry has ever seen, these are not decisions we take easily, but this is an extraordinary situation.  We value our staff at Kuoni, all those who joined us recently are extremely talented people who are our friends and colleagues.    We very much want the government to step in and help us with measures to protect staff at this very difficult time and if so then we hope the position can be changed."

Kuoni's parent company DER Touristik UK also owns a number of other travel brands including Carrier, CV Villas, Jules Verne, Kirker and Journey Latin America. It is not known what, if any, cost cutting measures they have implemented.

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