Troubled travel agent Thomas Cook has announced that its total UK bookings for summer 2012 are currently down 2 per cent year on year. The company has been hit by tough trading conditions, especially in Britain where its core customer base have been hit by the economic downturn. Political unrest in popular destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco have also affected sales.
Despite a strong growth in online bookings, it will worry investors who have already seen the company’s share price fall by 90 per cent over two years and the company issuing a series of profit warnings.
The company took some comfort from its March figures as it had already reduced its capacity, in the expectation of slow sales, which meant that it has 17 per cent fewer unsold holidays than it did this time last year.
The March figures compare favourably with the steep 33 per cent fall in bookings announced in January as well as a disastrous 2011. In November, Thomas Cook's shares fell 75 per cent in one day after revealing it was in talks with banks about securing extra financing.
In a statement the company said, "As we stated in our first quarter results, we continue to expect 2011-12 to be a challenging year given the economic backdrop and difficult trading environment, particularly for winter.”
Thomas Cook, which has around 1,300 outlets, has embarked on a turnaround plan which will include a drive for more online sales and plans to close 200 of its branches over the next two years.