By Daniel Hunter

Thomas Cook have been forced to cut 2,500 jobs from their UK staff base as 200 stores prepare to close down.

The travel agent announced the plans as part of the drive to revive its profitability.

Most of the job losses will come from its back-office functions and its retail network.

"Even after these changes we will still have one of the largest retail networks in UK travel," Thomas Cook said.

For the last financial year to September, the firm reported pre-tax losses of £485.3m.

"It is never easy to make decisions that impact directly on our people, but we also owe it to our customers to shape the business effectively and ensure that, when they book their holiday with us, our administrative costs are as low as possible," Peter Fankhauser, CEO Continental Europe & UK, commented.

"As we improve and develop our online capabilities, maintaining a strong presence on the High Street is an important part of our omni-channel strategy. Even after these changes we will still have one of the largest retail networks in UK travel.

"It is essential that we operate with the right number of people as we move forward into the next era for our company, allowing us to meet the future needs of our customers more effectively. These proposals will mean a stronger Thomas Cook that continues to be a major employer in the UK dedicated to providing excellent holiday experiences to our 23 million customers.

"We are in consultation with our Unions and employee representative bodies to minimise the impact of these changes and I am speaking personally to all employees today to provide information and support through this period of consultation."

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