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Thomas Cook travel agency plans to close 50 offices

British global travel company Thomas Cook has announced it would close 50 stores in the UK as part of a restructuring of the firm as more and more sales move online.

The proposed closure of the shops will take place by March 2018 and will affect up to 400 employees, a spokesman for Thomas Cook said on Friday.

The travel firm said in its full-year results last week that it had cut its retail network in the UK by 45 percent in the last five years, ending September with 692 stores.

The announcement comes just a week after the firm reported that earnings at its UK division had plunged by 40 percent in the last fiscal year ending September 30.

The tour operator’s plan is to cut expenses by shutting Thomas Cook shops that are close to other shops of the retailer, or close the ones that have seen dwindling profits due to fewer customers.

Thomas Cook UK’s Director of Retail and Customer Experience Kathryn Darbandi said that in order to increase profits the firm had to offer the best tours in online sales channels.

“We continually review our network of stores across the UK to make sure we’re offering customers the best of Thomas Cook,” she said in a statement.

“We will offer them a world-class service whichever channel they chose to book, be that retail or online.”

Media reports said online sales of flights and hotel accommodations for British people, who take tens of millions of foreign trips each year, grew 27 percent in the UK in 2017.

British tourists arrive on a flight organised by Thomas Cook at Manchester Airport on January 18, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The top foreign destinations for the British tourists are Spain, France and Italy.

The US is another top destination for the British holiday makers.

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