Thomas Cook loses retail boss ahead of Co-op merger

Thomas Cook’s retail chief is stepping down only days ahead of the expected final clearance by the regulator of the travel company’s proposed joint venture with the Co-operative Group.

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Chief executive of retail UK Ian Derbyshire, previously CEO for UK & Ireland, is stepping down to join the family’s child activity centre business. His departure comes only a week after Thomas Cook chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa resigned following a series of profit warnings. The company is now evaluating its structure and brand strategy.

Derbyshire’s departure was planned for earlier this year but he stayed to see through the Competition Commission investigation into the merger. Former managing director of sales Simon Robinson will now take over as leader for the joint venture when the deal is completed, which is expected to be in early October.

The joint venture was provisionally cleared by the CC in July and a final report from the regulator is expected next Tuesday (16 August). It will see Thomas Cook, the Co-operative Group and Midlands Co-operative Society create a company with an initial estate of 1,240 travel agent stores.

Rival travel company TUI, owner of Thomson Holidays and First Choice, has just posted a 9 % rise in sales for its third quarter, although operating profit is down 11%.

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