Managers at Hays Travel, the independent firm which last month bought the former Thomas Cook retail portfolio – saving 555 shops and more than 2,000 jobs just a month ago - took to the skies yesterday.
Four specially chartered Jet2 planes took off from Manchester, Newcastle and Stansted London airports on Tuesday morning, with more than 700 branch managers on board, heading to Turkey for the company’s 30th annual retail managers’ conference.
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Hays, founded in Seaham in 1980, employs 4,000-plus people. The conference is three times bigger than previous years and twice the number of planes and hotels were needed to accommodate everyone.
Staff will be staying in five-star luxury hotels and, as well as three intensive working days, enjoying evening events including a glittering awards dinner.
Travelling with them to Antalya and serving snacks on board were owners and managing director John Hays and wife and company chairman Irene, both wearing the company uniform for the day.
“We always make sure our managers have fun at the conference as they get together from all over the country,” said Mrs Hays, who collected two awards alongside her husband at last Thursday’s Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards night.
“They pack in three full days with some fantastic speakers and workshops and they end up with a unique insight into the latest developments in the travel industry, and masses of information to take back to their branches.
“This year, we will have the added bonus of getting to know our new colleagues.
“We’ll also take the chance to recognise and celebrate all the hard work everyone has put in this year, and to thank those from Thomas Cook who joined so quickly and moved mountains to help us get their shops back up and running.”
She added the company’s thanks to Jet2 and Rixos Hotels for their support after the plans grew after the takeover and the airports for their hospitality.