Thomas Cook to cut 2,500 UK jobs

Travel firm Thomas Cook has announced its decision to close its 195 high street travel agencies and cut 2,500 jobs in the UK.

The planned closures and job cuts are a part of the 172-year-old travel firm's restructuring plan, which aims to turn its distressed British business around.

Thomas Cook, the world's oldest travel firm, also said that most of the cuts would affect positions in the back-office and within the firm's retail network.

Peter Fankhauser, chief executive of the firm's Europe and UK business, said that it was never easy for the firm to plan closures and job cuts, but added that it was necessary to bring its administrative costs down and remain profitable.

Fankhauser said in a statement, "We firmly believe these proposals will mean a better, more profitable, Thomas Cook that continues to be a major employer in the UK."

Travel firms across European countries have suffered considerable decline in the businesses over the past two years, as the region's persistent debt crisis, higher fuel costs and political issues forced many people to cancel or postpone their travel plans.

Thomas Cook has a workforce of nearly 15,500 people in the UK and Ireland, where it operates more than one thousand travel agencies.