Deathwatch: Thomson and First Choice

Bitterwallet - Thomson Things are looking up aren’t they? We have more disposable income than we’ve had in a long time and we’re all looking forward to our summer jollies. Still, it seems that despite increased bookings and a higher average spend, two of the UK's best known travel brands are set to disappear after owner TUI confirmed plans to use a single brand to promote its holidays.

Both Thomson, which dates back to 1965, and First Choice are owned by the TUI group, and following a merger of the UK TUI company with the German  TUI AG, the group has decided to sell holidays throughout Europe under a single brand, rather than under the recognised brands in each individual company. The transition expected to take up to three years.

Thomson and First Choice entertained 5.2 million holidaymakers last year, with the top getaway spots including the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Greece. The combined TUI brand, however, now has more than 300 hotels, 136 planes and 1,800 shops across Europe selling holidays to 30 million customers in 180 countries. TUI say that they have currently sold 59% of this year’s summer holidays, with bookings up 2% on a year ago, and average selling prices also up 1%.

But don’t cry over the loss of Thomson too soon- joint chief executive Peter Long said the firm would begin phasing out other European regional brands in the Netherlands and France, leaving First Choice and Thomson as the last brands to go.

He said: "These will be the last to be rebranded because of their size. It will give us time to learn as we go. The move is aimed at strengthening our position in our markets."

TUI Group also owns UK hotel booking website LateRooms, but has just announced that it will also be putting the website, founded in Salford in 1999, up for sale with a view to being rid of it by the end of financial year.

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