Thomas Cook/Co-op JV recognises marketing’s contribution to value

The new retail joint venture between Thomas Cook, The Co-Operative Travel and Midlands Co-op Travel has handed a senior marketer a seat on the shareholder board.

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The Co-op Group’s marketing director Gill Barr takes the seat on a board chaired by Thomas Cook UK chief executive Ian Ailles and which includes Co-op deputy chief executive Martyn Wates.

Thomas Cook UK head of retail Simon Robinson leads the venture as chief executive and chairman of the operating board. The initiative which sees the creation of the largest chain of travel agents in the UK, with some 1,240 stores.

The go ahead for the merger was given by the Competition Commission last month after an investigation into whether the proposal would disadvantage consumers.

The marketing function on the operating board has been handed to Midland Co-op Travel travel general manager Ken Smith, who takes the title commercial and marketing director. The retail sales managing director is current Thomas Cook sales managing director Joanna Wild.

The venture intends to retain the separate brands involved. There have been no announcements about rationalising the retail estate yet.

Thomas Cook’s long-standing chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa stepped down last month after a string of profit warnings and is yet to be replaced. Deputy chief executive Sam Weihagen is leading the company on an interim basis.

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