Thomas Cook to close 200 shops

Thomas Cook reported a worse than expected decline in full-year operating profit and said it would close 200 of its underperforming shops in Britain, as it looks to reduce its debt and restore confidence among investors.

Europe's second biggest travel firm by sales, which secured a rescue package from its banks last month, said the move is part of a turnaround plan which will enable it to deliver annual profit improvements of £110m.

The company, which had issued a string of profit warnings and went to its banks for £200m of additional funding in November, said its operating profit for the year to 14 December fell by £58m to £304m.

Market expectations for Thomas Cook's full-year operating profit had ranged between £306m and £321m.

The company has been hit hard by tough trading conditions, especially in Britain, where its core customer base of families with young children has been particularly affected by tough economic conditions. It has also been impacted by unrest in popular destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.