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The Co-op sells stake in Thomas Cook joint venture

The Co-op travel brand is to leave the high street following the group's decision to serve notice to exit the joint venture that was set up with Thomas Cook Group in 2011.

SPORTS & LEISURE

The Co-op sells stake in Thomas Cook joint venture

The Co-op travel brand is to leave the high street following the group's decision to serve notice to exit the joint venture that was set up with Thomas Cook Group in 2011.

The joint venture has operated the UK retail travel branches of both businesses.

The move means that Thomas Cook will take full control of its UK retail store network. Under the terms of the agreement, Thomas Cook will purchase The Co-operative Group's 30% stake and Central England Co-operative's 3.5% stake for £50 million and £5.8 million respectively.

Rod Bulmer, chief executive, consumer services at the Co-op, said: "We have enjoyed a successful partnership with Thomas Cook through the joint venture. Going forward, having a minority stake in a travel business does not fit with the strategy of the Co-op. The financial arrangements for exit that were put in place as part of the original JV agreement represent the best value for our members. The payments we receive from the exit will be used to invest in our core business areas."

The joint venture was formed through the merger of the travel retail businesses of Thomas Cook, The Co-operative Group and Midlands Co-operative. It currently has 764 stores in the UK across two brands: Thomas Cook and The Co-operative Travel. Thomas Cook will retain the right to use the Co-operative Travel brand until November 2018.

Thomas Cook said the transaction is not expected to have a material impact on the group's profit and loss account.

Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook Group chief executive, said: "This purchase gives us full control over our retail store network, enabling us to better integrate our stores with our online offering, while also helping us to focus on growing sales of added extras such as holiday-related financial services.

"Over the next two years, we will bring all of our UK stores under the Thomas Cook banner so we can make full use of the best brand in travel."

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