Loss-making travel giant Thomas Cook is planning to pull ‘back office’ operations out of Bradford with the phased closure of its remaining administrative centre at Inmoor Road, Birkenshaw, with the loss of nearly 150 jobs.
It is the second major jobs bombshell by the company and follows the axing of its city centre call centre in Aldermanbury with the loss of 500 jobs. Some who survived that cull have been affected by the latest job losses.
Thomas Cook said transfer of work from Birkenshaw to its Peterborough base would begin next month, with the office due to close by the end of January, 2015.
Staff at Birkenshaw, including 76 transferred from Aldermanbury, have been told of the move and a 45-day formal consultation will begin on Monday.
Plans involve migrating back office and support functions from Birkenshaw to Peterborough throughout 2014. Some functions could cease or be outsourced, depending on operational changes.
The company said the decision had been reached after considering several options under its ‘location strategy review’ and closing Birkenshaw was seen as the most effective as the group strives to get back on track after its bankers nearly pulled the plug.
Thomas Cook said customer service levels would not be affected by the closure and it would explore all options for staff, including possible relocation or redeployment opportunities.
Reto Wilhelm, managing director at Thomas Cook UK & Ireland, said: “We’ve made a commitment to improve not only the profitability of the UK business, but also place the customer at the very heart of all we do.
“Today’s announcement is another important part of our strategy – further simplifying our processes and removing role and function duplication. We are confident that these changes will improve the service we offer to our customers.
“We fully appreciate the impact this decision will have on our Birkenshaw-based employees and are committed to doing everything that we can to support the team over the coming weeks should our proposals go ahead. I'd like to thank our colleagues at the Birkenshaw site for their professionalism as we now enter a period of consultation, during which we will explore all options with those individuals concerned including possible relocation or redeployment opportunities.”
Staff leaving the offices yesterday were reluctant to comment in detail to the Telegraph & Argus, although some appeared angry and upset.
One said: “I don’t want to say anything because we don’t really know what is going on ourselves.”
Another said: “I am not allowed to say anything.”
The 170-year-old firm was forced to turn to its banks for an extra £200 million of loans and appointed Harriet Green, former boss of Leeds-based electronic components distributor Premier Farnell, as its new chief executive.