Peterborough-based Thomas Cook reveals £1.4 billion loss

17 Mai, 2019, 17:04 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Peterborough-based Thomas Cook reveals £1.4 billion loss

Travel firm Thomas Cook has warned of "further headwinds" for the rest of the year after reporting a £1.5bn loss for the first half of the year.

Thomas Cook's figures for the six months to March 31, show sales fell to £3,019 million compared with 3,227 million for the same period previous year.

Shareholders reacted to the latest torrent of bad news with another sell-off as shares in the business slumped almost 15% to 19.6p. For summer 2019, tour operator bookings are down 12 percent but pricing is up 2 percent. It has slashed the number of holidays it offers in response to weaker demand, and is offering big discounts to entice United Kingdom customers.

CEO Peter Fankhauser says "there is now little doubt that the Brexit process has led many United Kingdom customers to delay their holiday plans for this summer".

"With a lot of holidays left to sell across the market, there are high levels of discounting at this early stage of the season".

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said trading had been tough for the entire travel sector in the last few months, as customers wait to see what happens with Brexit before making a travel booking.

Boss Peter Fankhauser said there was "now little doubt" that Brexit had caused United Kingdom holidaymakers to postpone their summer travel planning, with no pick-up since the European Union withdrawal deadline was put back by six months.

"The continued competitive pressure resulting from consumer uncertainty is putting further pressure on margins", Fankhauser said.

Thomas Cook, which has puts its airline up for sale, said it was also encountering higher fuel and hotel costs, and warned underlying profits in the second half of 2019 would be behind the same period past year.

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Fankhauser said the company was assessing bids for its airline unit.

Lufthansa has said it put in an offer for Thomas Cook's German airline Condor while Virgin Atlantic is reportedly interested in the long-haul business.

To date, Thomas Cook has closed 21 branches across the United Kingdom and slashed its available holiday packages due to weakening sales.

The debt-laden company has struggled recently, as a fall in demand for package holidays and intense online competition resulted in a string of profit warnings.

Thomas Cook said more of its 566 stores could close as leases end, and that 150 roles would be cut from its Peterborough head office.

Mark Benbow, a fund manager at Kames Capital, said: "Thomas Cook is by no means alone in facing uncertainty. Tui is the next weakest in the market in terms of its debt". The company carried out a rights issue in 2013 to shore up its balance sheet.

Russ Mould, AJ Bell investment director, said Thomas Cook's mounting woes raise the prospect of a possible bid for the firm. Thomas Cook opened 12 more hotels in the first half, taking the total to 200 hotels, including franchised outlets, and is aiming for 250 by 2021.

"We normally have a holiday in France every year". There has been a boom in short city breaks to San Francisco and Las Vegas.

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