Thomas Cook aims to reassure clients

Kasmira Jefford
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THOMAS Cook has launched a publicity offensive aimed at reassuring customers of its future as its incoming chairman, Frank Meysman, arrives to review the business, which is expected to involve a boardroom clearout.

After being saved from collapse on Friday by a £100m bailout from its banks, Thomas Cook’s interim chief executive Sam Weihagen published an open letter on the website aimed at dispelling customer fears about its financial stability.

Weihagen insisted Thomas Cook “is an even stronger and more confident company” stressing that customers’ holidays were really “in safe hands”.

The company has sought to quash concerns over its holidays after rivals last week tried to take advantage and published newspaper adverts alluding to its financial problems.

Last week the 170-year-old firm, which sells more than 22m holidays a year in the UK, had to ask its banks to come to its rescue for the second time in six weeks, following a deterioration in trading conditions.

Under a new deal agreed on Friday, the syndicate of banks led by RBS, HSBC, Unicredit and Barclays, will have the right to take five per cent of the shares, and will receive about £10m in fees. The travel company will pay about six per cent interest on the emergency loan.

Thomas Cook said its preliminary results, which were postponed, would be published in the week of 12 December. It is expected to announce a radical downsizing, to pay down its £1.1bn debt, including the closure of at least 200 travel agencies and the loss of 1,000 jobs.

Frank Meysman, the former Sara Lee executive who takes over as chairman on Thursday, is expected to review the firm’s entire board of non-executive directors.