A FRESH start is in prospect for former Thomas Cook staff with the launch of a new travel agents in Blackburn.

Hays Travel is behind the reopening of the premises in King William Street which had been the home of their former rivals for a number of years.

Some of the workforce there had been involved in arranging sunshine getaways and winter holidays for local travellers for nearly 40 years.

The announcement brings the number of former Thomas Cook stores reopened by Sunderland-based Hays in East Lancashire to three.

Their old premises in Chancery Walk, Burnley, and Market Street, Colne, have been trading under their banner since October 28.

Other branches to be saved by Hays, as part of their pledge to rescue 470 shops countrywide, included their sites in Chapel Street, Chorley, and Hough Lane, Leyland.

Claire McCooke, regional sales manager, said: “We are delighted that our first Hays Travel branch in Blackburn is opening this week.

“The staff can’t wait to welcome customers old and new through the doors.

“Jill Orr, one of the travel consultants in this branch has been booking holidays for Blackburn customers for 37 years.

“We are wishing them the best of luck on their opening day.”

For the Blackburn restart, they are still on the lookout for an assistant manager and sales consultants, according to a poster in their window. Applications need to be made to the company before next Wednesday.

The Accrington Thomas Cook store, in the Arndale Centre, disappeared last March, as part of an earlier round of store closures by the ailing holiday firm.

As reported last week by the Lancashire Telegraph, the Hays operation in Burnley will face a degree of competition.

Six former Thomas Cook employees were taken on by the Scottish travel agents chain Barrhead, also in Charter Walk, as they launched their first foray into Lancashire.

Other Lancashire stores to be revived cover Preston, Blackpool, Cleveleys, Kirkham, Lytham and Lancaster.

An estimated 2,330 former Thomas Cook staff, across the country, have been offered new employment following the Hays takeover. The company also pledged to take on an apprentice for the 737 sites they had taken on.