Fosun Tourism is planning to give Thomas Cook’s brand a new lease of life in the global travel market after buying its intellectual property out of UK bankruptcy last year.
The Shanghai-based hospitality group wants to position for a recovery in travel demand by unveiling an online travel booking platform soon, according to a person familiar with its plan. It aims to tap UK travellers as the Covid-19 cases subside.
Fosun is waiting for some stability in the UK government rules on travel restriction, according to people familiar with the plan, who declined to be identified because the plan has not been finalised. If there is no big change to the current situation, the platform should be able to go online quite quickly within this month, they added.
Controlled by mainland Chinese tycoon Guo Guangchang, the Hong Kong-listed group is banking on the revival of travel after some of its biggest overseas assets suffered a meltdown from the Covid-19 crisis. Fosun International, which controls Fosun Tourism, ceded control of Cirque du Soleil after the Canadian firm went bankrupt, while its Club Med business slumped under travel bans.
The 178-year old Thomas Cook Group Plc group folded in September after a £750 million (US$977 million) recapitalisation plan cobbled in July fell through. Instead, Fosun Tourism paid £11 million in November for its trademark and the Casa Cook and Cook’s Club hotel brands from the administrators.
Fosun Tourism is hoping that the impending relaunch in the UK can lure back travellers, particularly those in Europe who are familiar with its history. The online booking platform was launched in China on July 18 as domestic tourism rebounded, while the Club Med business has gradually been reopened since last month.
“The operation of the new Thomas Cook will be different from the previous business model, but will use an online travel agency and lifestyle platform as the future direction,” the people familiar said.
The decision remains a touch-and-go situation, as government officials warned that the UK is entering a “period of particular concern” given the still-elevated cases of Covid-19 infections.
The UK recorded 2,948 new cases on Monday, following after 2,988 detected on Sunday which was the highest since May 22. The cases, however, have fallen by about half from some 6,000-odd levels at its recent peak.
Thomas Cook, the result of a 2007 merger between Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel Group, can trace its root to Thomas Cook & Sons in 1841. Before its collapse, it had 21,000 employees on staff in 16 countries, 40 per cent of whom work in the UK.
Thomas Cook’s hotel brands, which have eight franchise hotels in Spain, Greece, Turkey and Egypt, have returned to operations since the end of June.
Fosun Tourism reported a 50 per cent decline in revenue to 4.5 billion yuan (US$658 million) in the first half this year. It fell into an 899 million yuan loss, from a 490 million yuan of profit a year earlier.
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This article Fosun Tourism to relaunch Thomas Cook in the UK market soon to get a head start in travel recovery first appeared on South China Morning Post