Jobs at risk as Central England Co-op shuts down travel business

Central England Co-operative is set to close its travel business, with 16 branches transferring to Midcounties Co-operative and the remaining eight branches closing including some across the East Midlands.

The travel shops proposed for transfer to Midcounties Co-operative are: Allenton (Derby), Atherstone, Beccles, Castle Donington, Diss, Erdington, Glenfield, Ibstock, Kings Lynn, Lowestoft, March, Market Deeping, Oakham, Peterborough, Thetford, Whetstone.

The proposed travel shop closures are: Bourne, Great Barr, Rushden, Scunthorpe, St Ives, St Neots, Stirchley, Wisbech.

A spokesperson for Central England Co-operative said: “The Society can now announce that it intends to enter into an agreement with Midcounties Co-operative to transfer 16 of its travel agencies into Midcounties successful Travel business. The two Societies have a longstanding and positive relationship, with Central England recently joining Midcounties travel buying consortium following the demise of Thomas Cook. The coming together of the two businesses will enable the continuation of a Co-operative travel offer for our members and customers and the continued employment for a number of colleagues.

“Regretfully it is proposed to close the remaining eight travel branches. All colleagues from these sites are now under consultation and, where possible, we are looking to offer them the opportunity to relocate into other areas of our business.

“The decision was not taken lightly, and we would like to thank all staff for their commitment and dedication during their time with the Society. A date for the proposed completion of transfers and closures has yet to be confirmed.”

Rad Sofronijevic, chief operating officer of Midcounties Co-operative’s travel division, said: “These have been extraordinary times for the whole travel sector, but with lockdown measures easing we’re well placed to grow from strength to strength. Travel is core to Midcounties’ long-term strategy and when we learned that Central England Co-operative was looking to emphasise its focus on other divisions and move away from Travel, we wanted to take the opportunity to bring these branches under the Midcounties retail umbrella and further strengthen our offering. With our scale and expertise, we look forward to helping grow and nurture the former Central England Co-operative branches to ensure their success in the future”.

John Gorle – Usdaw National Officer said: “This is clearly a worrying time for the staff and Usdaw will be fully engaging in a meaningful consultation process on the proposed transfer and closures, where we will be seeking the best possible deal for members. In the meantime we are providing our members with the support, advice and representation they need through this process.

“Clearly the coronavirus emergency is having a big impact on the high street, not least in the travel industry. The Government has to prioritise supporting vulnerable businesses to help save jobs, working with unions and employers to develop an effective recovery plan as we emerge from this appalling pandemic.”