ANOTHER town centre shop is to close in Huddersfield.
Travel giant Thomas Cook is to axe its New Street store with the loss of nine jobs as part of plans to close 200 travel shops nationwide.
The company has launched a 90-day consultation with affected staff after deciding to close the store because its lease is set to expire.
The move does not affect the High Street branch of Thomas Cook, which will continue to trade normally.
But it will mean another empty unit on a street in the heart of the town centre – coming just 24 hours after shopping guru Mary Portas called for urgent work to revitalise the High Street.
The 170-year-old travel group, which came close to collapse last month, racked up losses of almost £400m.
It came after a year in which the slump in consumer confidence and the Arab Spring wrecked demand for its package holidays.
The closure plans follow Thomas Cook’s recent merger with the Co-op’s high street travel business.
The company, which has 1,300 shops, confirmed that 661 staff in 115 stores were being told yesterday and today that their branch could close.
Ian Ailles, chief executive of Thomas Cook UK Mainstream, said: “We’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our retail network and the proposals will ensure that as the UK’s leading high street travel retailer we have the right stores in the right places for our customers.
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“We will now be consulting with those affected colleagues and looking at redeployment opportunities.”
A spokeswoman added: “We can confirm we’re proposing the Thomas Cook in New Street store will close.
“We have another Thomas Cook store on High Street as well as a Co-operative Travel on Cross Church Street.
“We’re working with those potentially affected colleagues at the New Street store as they go through the consultation period.”
Thomas Cook has set out a plan to turn around its UK business – including focusing on fewer and better quality hotels and a drive for more online bookings.
But analysts said the company faced another difficult year as the UK teetered on the edge of another recession.
Interim chief executive Sam Weihagen said: “There’s no silver bullet to turning around the UK business but I’m confident that the measures will improve the profitability in years to come.
“Thomas Cook is a very strong brand in the UK and it has enormous possibilities to make sure it becomes a profitable business.”
The group said it was encouraged by an 8% rise in bookings from UK customers for next summer, although UK bookings for the current winter season were down 11%.
Its UK business saw underlying profits fall by 68% to £34.1m in the year after its margins fell to just 1% and disruption in the Middle East cost it £15m.