The Hillman Travel company, which had signed an agreement in October 2019 with the curator of Thomas Cook Retail Belgium, wants to reopen 18 travel agencies, Operational Director Simone Boon announced to Belga on Thursday.
By March, around 25 agents in Flanders and Wallonia will offer trips under the name of the new group.
Despite its financial solidity, Thomas Cook Retail Belgium went bankrupt last year after the collapse of the British head office. This provoked a loss of 530 jobs, making it one of the largest bankruptcies in 2019.
Bergman Assets, an investment company based in Knokke, has acquired the activities of 31 agencies and wants to reopen 18 (17 in Flanders, one in Wallonia). The company will open a Hillman Travel subsidiary by March.
The company is optimistic about the potential of the project. “If we only make half the sales that were generated by Thomas Cook in these subsidiaries, we will already be quite satisfied,” Boon said. The new chain aims at being distinguished by its sharp service and nonstop availability.
Hillman Travel has already recruited five people, two of whom were previously employed by Thomas Cook, who are preparing the launch of the new agency. The number will double in the short term before increasing consistently with the opening of agencies, according to management plans.
In a few weeks, a first “flagship store” will officially open in Knokke, followed by subsidiaries in Wetteren, Geraardsbergen and Zelzate. Thomas Cook/Neckermann Agencies in Schilde and Eupen will also begin to sell trips under the new name.
The network will then be extended to include the Flemish Brabant, where seven agencies are planned.
The remaining 62 Thomas Cook travel agencies, which are located mainly in Wallonia, have been taken over by the Spanish company Wamos.