Hays Travel to Axe 878 jobs Due to Covid-19 Pandemic

Hays Travel to Axe 878 jobs Due to Covid-19 Pandemic.
The Sunderland-based firm is to make almost a fifth of its workforce redundant in response to an unprecedented slowdown in the travel industry. The firm has revealed it will cut up to 878 jobs out of a total workforce of 4,500 people.

Hays Travel is consulting with 344 employees who are training as travel consultants and 534 who work in its foreign exchange division.

Company bosses have blamed Government changes to the furlough scheme and quarantine rules for holidaymakers for the redundancies.

Founded in 1980 and headquartered in Sunderland, Hays Travel is now the largest independent travel agent in the UK. The company is run by husband and wife John Hays and Irene Hays, the former chief executive of Sunderland City Council.

In a joint statement, they said: “We are devastated that after all of our efforts and the huge investment we’ve made we now face losing some of our valued employees, through no fault of their own.

“Following the decision to ban travel to Spain and the changes in furlough conditions coming at the same time, we have had no choice. We are also devastated for everyone who may lose their job and we will do all we can in consultations to help them, as we focus on retaining as many people as possible and rebuilding consumer confidence through our renowned friendly and knowledgeable customer service.”

The pair were among several leaders in the travel industry to publicly criticise the Government’s self-isolation requirements for people returning from holiday.

There was hope for a recovery in the sector when a list of countries it was safe to travel to was drawn up in time for the summer holiday season, but the news Spain would be removed has sent shockwaves through the industry.

Last week, Mr Hays told ChronicleLive: “It’s been a nightmare. We have done better than most but I think the pandemic has damaged every travel business in the world.

“We had hit some small milestones at the start of July and a week ago had got back up to 50% of like-for-like sales, with more people making bookings and booking for later in the year or next year – then the world changed again when the Government brought in the quarantine roles. What it has done is knocked that consumer confidence to go away.

“All those figures, in terms of new business, are now way less than half what we did a week ago.”

The Sunderland firm became the UK’s largest independent holiday business when the firm acquired the former Thomas Cook retail portfolio of 555 shops and took on its former employees.

But, as reported lasr week, accounts for the business for the year ended October 2019 showed that the firm’s pre-tax profit including exceptional items was more than halved – from £11.6m to £4.9m – as it took a hit from the acquisition. Operating profit also dropped from £10.02m to £3.1m.

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