Thomas Cook and Co-operative Travel are to merge into one organisation, it has been announced.

This will mean the new company will own a total of over 1,000 business properties around the UK, with approximately 1,200 stores that will keep their separate branding.

It will mean the firm is the UK's largest high street travel retailer and the second-largest provider of retail foreign exchange.

Thomas Cook will own 70%, while The Co-operative Group retains 30%, as well as the Midlands Co-operative becoming a shareholder in the future.

Commenting, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, chief executive officer of Thomas Cook Group, said: "We have listened to our holidaymakers who have told us how important it is to have access to our stores and to our skilled and professional travel agents."

In 1845, Thomas Cook led his first trip for profit, which consisted of a railway journey to Liverpool from Leicester, Nottingham and Derby, the group notes.

Posted by Suzannah Taylor