By Max Clarke

The Competition Commission (CC) has provisionally cleared plans to bring Thomas Cook, the Co-operative Group and the Midlands Co operative Society travel companies together.

The CC has provisionally concluded that the acquisition will not result in a substantial lessen¬ing of competition (SLC) in any markets in the UK, in particular for customers buying package holidays from high street travel agents.

“The joint venture would bring together two of the three largest travel agents on the UK high street,” commented Laura Carstensen, CC Deputy Chairman. “Thomas Cook currently has 780 stores, Co-op 360 and Midlands 100. Thomas Cook will continue to conduct its tour operator business separately from the joint venture.

“We have particularly focused on the effect the joint venture will have on customers buying package holidays. We conducted a survey of customers in those areas most likely to be affected by the joint venture. Whilst the Internet is clearly a choice for many independent holidaymakers, the majority of these customers prefer to book package holidays through high travel agents. “

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