Thomas Cook sees summer sales pick-up

Kasmira Jefford
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THOMAS COOK said yesterday that its recently launched advertising campaign and improvements to its websites helped improve bookings in recent weeks as the debt-laden operator attempts to turn its business around.

The world’s oldest travel firm, which was rescued by its banks after a cash crisis late last year, reported a 19 per cent year-on-year uplift in online UK bookings for mainstream holidays in the past four weeks.

Despite the recent uplift, the company said UK sales for the summer season overall remain two per cent behind the previous year while its mainstream summer holiday bookings, package tours to destinations such as the Canaries and Balearics, also dropped sharply by 10 per cent.

The troubled operator, which issued three profit warnings last year culminating in the departure of its chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa in August, has been trying to revive sales by reducing its capacity and shifting its focus toward more specialised holidays.

In the UK this winter, bookings for specialist holidays rose by one per cent, and were up a further 14 per cent for the summer period.

A spokesperson for the firm said the group had seen a bounce back in specialised bookings to North African destinations like Tunisia, where demand had fallen sharply due to social unrest in the region last year.

The group failed to announce a new chief executive yesterday. Shares, which have fallen 85 per cent in the past year, closed down 0.5p at 22.75p.