Peterborough-based travel operator Thomas Cook to axe 300 jobs nationally and close 21 stores including Chesham and Stevenage

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Holiday giant Thomas Cook has announced that it is to axe more than 300 jobs to close 21 stores.

The closure comes as the world's oldest travel operator seeks to cut costs and meet the needs of the growing number of customers who book their holidays online.

The 21 closures will reduce the number of Thomas Cook stores in the UK to 566 shops and will mean the loss of 102 jobs.

The closure plan includes stores in Queensway in Stevenage and in The Broadway in Chesham.

In addition, a further 218 store-based roles are likely to be cut as part of a review of the Thomas Cook retail workforce.

A consultation process with staff and their union representatives is already underway.

The announcement comes as Thomas Cook, which employs about 1,200 people at its offices at Westpoint, in Lynch Wood, Peterborough, revealed last November it had made a loss of £163 million.

It says holidaymakers online accounted for 64 per cent of all Thomas Cook bookings in the UK last year.

Thomas Cook's chief of tour operating, Will Waggott, said: "The announcement reflects the wider challenges seen on the high street, with more and more customers choosing to book online.

"These measures will help us to drive greater efficiencies across Thomas Cook so that we relentlessly focus our resources in those areas that give us the greatest opportunity to make a difference to customers in our core holiday offering.

"Looking ahead, we will be working to ensure that Thomas Cook is fit for the future, putting a rigorous focus on costs in a competitive environment while giving customers more reasons to holiday with the strongest brand in travel."

The stores listed for closure are:

Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne

West Bromwich Sandwell Centre, West Midlands

Llandudno, North Wales

Sunderland Sainsburys, Tyne & Wear

North Shields, Tyne & Wear

Peterlee, County Durham

Accrington, Lancashire

Market Harborough 23 St Marys Place, Leicestershire

Bury Haymarket, Lancashire

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Aberdeen Langstane, Aberdeen

Chesham, Buckinghamshire

Launceston, Cornwall

Stevenage, Hertfordshire

Shipley, West Yorkshire

Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire

Guildford, Surrey

Glenrothes 52 Unicorn Way, Fife

Colchester High St, Essex

Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Kirkintilloch Cowgate, Glasgow

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