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Thomas Cook's shares tumble as it announces £328m loss

Misery continues for the beleaguered travel agency.

The British travel company Thomas Cook Group has posted a pre-tax loss of £712.9m for the six months ended 31 March 2012, a staggering increase from £269.4m for the same period last year. Its underlying pre-tax loss for the period came to £328m.

Revenue increased by 2.5 per cent to £3.52bn (2011: £3.43bn), a dim silver lining that reflects the impact of its acquisitions (Intourist, the company’s Russian business, and Co-op in the UK in particular). Likewise, total revenue in its Airlines Germany division climbed 11.3 per cent to £506.4m (2011: £455m). 

Sam Weihagen, interim CEO, also announced today that he expects "it could be very profitable" if Greece leaves the eurozone, as holidays to the Mediterranean country would become cheaper. 

Yet it has been a tough six months for the 170-year-old company. Gross profit slipped from £713.8m last year to £709.6m. Net finance costs increased to £66.9m (2011: £64.5m), mainly as a result of higher average borrowing levels and increased arrangement fees.

The company’s UK segment revenue was down £29.4m at £993.1m.

Though the company’s central Europe segment revenue increased by 13.9 per cent, western Europe revenues declined by 11.5 per cent. Revenues for the northern Europe segment grew 8.6 per cent but North American revenues declined 14.4 per cent. 

Basic loss per share was 68.2p (2011: 23.5p), while net debt increased to £1.39bn (2011: £1.09bn). 

Sam Weihagen, group chief executive of Thomas Cook Group, said: 

At the beginning of this month, we were delighted to announce the agreement with our banking group of longer term and more flexible funding. This, combined with the sale of Thomas Cook India, the sale and leaseback of some of our aircraft and the disposal of other non-core assets, provides the group with a much stronger financial platform. From this platform, we can re-energise our business and begin to rebuild profitability, reduce debt and continue to provide a fantastic holiday experience for our customers.