Up to 2,500 jobs could be saved after one of the country’s largest travel agents secured a deal to buy all 555 UK stores from collapsed travel chain Thomas Cook.
Hays Travel has already employed 421 members of Thomas Cook staff and now intends to reopen shops immediately, potentially saving hundreds more from unemployment.
It also promised to create another 100 jobs at its Sunderland headquarters.
Founder, John Hays, said he was looking forward to welcoming the new recruits into the family business.
“It is a game-changer for us, almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce - and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people,” he said.
Thomas Cook - a 178-year-old travel group - went out of business last month after failing to agree a last-minute rescue deal.
But the agreement with Hays Travel is a “very positive outcome”, according to Jim Tucker, a KPMG partner who worked on the liquidation process.
“It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees, and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street,” he added.
Hays was set up in County Durham 40 years ago and reached £1 billion in sales last year. It has 190 shops and 1,900 employees.
Thomas Cook’s closure left 150,000 passengers stranded abroad, sparking the country’s largest repatriation operation since World War Two.
The last of the passengers were returned home on October 7 following the two-week mission, dubbed Operation Matterhorn.