U.K.-based Hays Travel has agreed to acquire Thomas Cook's entire U.K. retail holdings.

Under the deal, Hays Travel will take over 555 Thomas Cook stores and has pledged to create re-employment opportunities "for a significant number of former employees of Thomas Cook's retail operations."

Thus far, Hays Travel has recruited 421 former Thomas Cook personnel, with additional employment offers currently being extended. In total, Hays Travel expects to absorb up to 2,500 former employees of the collapsed travel group, doubling its current workforce. 

In a statement, Hays Travel co-owner and managing director John Hays said, "Our staff was devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all immediately felt we wanted to help. In the last two weeks, we have already employed or offered jobs to around 600 former Thomas Cook colleagues. Now that we are able to reopen the shops, we are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry into our family business."

Headquartered in Sunderland, U.K., Hays Travel has an existing network of 190 retail stores and more than 240 home-based travel advisors. The 40-year-old company reported sales of more than £1 billion ($1.22 billion) last year.

Hays Travel also runs the Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel agents, and business subsidiary Just Go Travel.

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