A  NUMBER of Thomas Cook stores have re-opened today after being bought out by travel company Hays Travel.

Five of the collapsed firm's shops opened to the public this morning.

Hays Travel confirmed they had bought the entire retail chain from the company's liquidators.

There are still 550 Thomas Cook shops which remain closed.

However, Hays Travel owners John and Irene Hays said they would be re-opening all stores as soon as possible under the name of Hays Travel.

They also confirmed that they had hired 597 former Thomas Cook staff, with plans for another 2,500 across the UK stores.

Thomas Cook left 9,000 people in the UK without a job last month, forcing ex-staff to visit food banks and borrow money to make ends meet.

But thousands of these employees have now been offered a lifeline after it was confirmed a "significant number" will be offered new jobs.

John said it was an emotional day with many staff "crying" when they were told their job had been saved.

As part of the agreement, the travel company will cover the rent of all stores until Christmas.

Hays, which is headquartered in Sunderland and has been operating for 40 years, currently has 190 shops across the UK.

It uses other tour operators to sell holidays to customers including Jet2holidays and TUI.

John and Irene Hays, managing director and group chair of Hays Travel, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people.

"We look forward to working with many of them."

Thomas Cook ceased trading with immediate effect on September 23 after the travel firm was unable to pay £200million to its creditors.

The travel firm's demise sparked the largest peacetime repatriation since World War Two after 150,000 passengers were stranded abroad.

Hays isn't the only company offering work to ex-Thomas Cook employees.

Axed Thomas Cook staff have been lined up for new jobs at BA, easyJet, Flybe, Tui and Virgin.

Brits can still book a stay at Thomas-Cook owned hotels, including Cook's Club and Casa Cook, due to being owned independently with other firms.

Some airlines and holiday providers were accused of hiking prices by triple the cost after the announcement that Thomas Cook had closed.

Thankfully, there are still ways to bag a cheap holiday next year following the collapse.

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