DEVASTATION turned to joy after more than a dozen jobs were saved at a Flintshire travel firm.

Former Thomas Cook staff who went ‘through a grieving process’ after losing their jobs when the firm went into liquidation have celebrated as Hays Travel take over.

Hays has taken over former Thomas Cook stores, including the second largest nationwide, at Broughton Shopping Park.

The Leader:

Although being open for two months, staff held an official opening ceremony on Friday morning.

Store Manager Emma Mansley said: “When Thomas Cook went into liquidation, this site had around 18 members of staff and they all lost their jobs.

“Everyone was devastated, they couldn’t believe it. We didn’t have a clue any of this was happening, we were being told by head office that everything was normal, and nothing would happen. It came as a complete shock to everyone.

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“Some team members, it felt like going through a grieving process. It was really strange, it’s not just a company, it was our life. It was a fantastic company to work for.

“Some team members found new employment straight away. But when Hays announced they are taking over Thomas Cook stores, most staff came back which is fantastic.

“They are all really happy to come back to the store they know and the team they worked with; it was like a family.

“Everyone was completely devastated. There were staff who had worked here for over 25 years.”

The Leader:

Emma worked for Thomas Cook in Wrexham for over 20 years and she said it has been her dream to work in the Broughton store, due to it being the second biggest in the UK.

Staff, who have over 200 years’ experience together, say they are grateful to have their jobs back.

Emma added: “They have saved jobs not just in store but also taken on cabin crew and reps from abroad.

“It’s opened opportunities for people who have never had the opportunity to work in travel, who have no experience, we have vacancies bringing in new people who we are able to train up.

“It’s a massive opportunity for all staff new and old, a lot of the girls here are from the local area and were going to the job centre – which they have never done in their lives – some of them have gone up into manager roles.”

Emma added that their plans for the near future are to ‘spread the word near and far’ they are back open and to officially change the sign above the door to Hays Travel from Thomas Cook.

She said: “It’s opened massive opportunities for us.”