The Co-operative Travel
|Type||Joint venture, business of a consumer co-operative|
|Headquarters||Peterborough, United Kingdom|
|Parent||Thomas Cook Group|
The Co-operative Travel is the largest independent travel agent in the United Kingdom. Since 2012, it is run as a joint venture between the Thomas Cook Group, The Co-operative Group and Midlands Co-operative Society, based at the Thomas Cook Business Park in Peterborough. The Co-operative Travel is a member of ABTA and holds an ATOL licence; it also acts as an agent for licenced Tour Operators. Customers can earn a share of the profits in proportion to purchases through The Co-operative Membership scheme.
The Co-operative Wholesale Society opened its first Excursion Department in 1905, to work with railways, steamers, and tour operators to get the best rates for co-operative society’s excursions. In 1920, CWS arranged its first overseas excursion and published its first holiday guide. By the 1950s, the CWS Travel Service had become one of the five largest travel agencies in Britain and had begun to organise air travel for co-operative societies and their members.
CWS Travel became known as Travelcare when the Co-operative Wholesale Society merged with Co-operative Retail Services in 2000 to form The Co-operative Group. The Co-operative Travel was formed by the integration of the Manchester-based Travelcare business with United Co-operatives' Co-op Travel subsidiary on the merger of the two societies in 2007.
It was announced in 2010, that Co-op Group Travel 1 Ltd. and Midlands Co-op Travel Ltd. would merge with the retail branches of Thomas Cook. The joint venture does not include the latter's tour operating arm, which remains wholly within the Thomas Cook Group. The new network is 70%-owned by Thomas Cook and 30%-owned by The Co-operative Group. Both chains retain their own branding, except for the small number of Thomas Cook's Going Places shops which were rebranded as The Co-operative Travel. The partnership arrangement has helped to retain the heritage and ethics of The Co-operative brand and to ensure the consistency of message.
The merger included the Co-operative's home-working division, Future Travel Limited, trading as The Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors. These consultants work from home, primarily by telephone, providing the same range of services as the High Street branches but for extended opening hours.
In 2010, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) was given 45 working days to review whether to formally oppose the merger. The Office of Fair Trading requested a referral from the European Commission and, in turn, referred the case to the Competition Commission in March 2011. In July 2011, it was announced that the Competition Commission raised no objections to the merger. As a result of the merger, the business became part of the Thomas Cook Group.
The Co-operative Travel offers package holidays, city breaks, hotels, flights, cruises and skiing holidays to a wide range of destinations. Foreign exchange services are also available, including American Express traveller's cheques. The Co-operative Travel Cash Passport is issued by Travelex; travel insurance is underwritten by White Horse Insurance Ireland. All flights and flight-inclusive holidays are financially protected by the ATOL scheme.
Members of The Co-operative Group, Midlands Co-operative and other participating regional societies earn one membership point for every £2.00 spent at The Co-operative Travel. Points are converted into dividend at a rate agreed annually by the Board.
- CWS Travel – Travel Brochure The Co-operative Group, 25 June 2013
- Top UK co-ops agree merger terms BBC News, 17 February 2007 03:29 GMT
- Incorporated in 2010 and registered in England and Wales under the Companies Act 1985, No. 7413801
- Registered in England and Wales under the Companies Act 1985, No. 4132544
- Landmark deal to create the UK’s largest travel retail network The Co-operative Group, 8 October 2010
- The Co-operative Travel The Co-operative Group (retrieved 8 May 2013)
- Future Travel name to go in Co-op rebrand TTG Digital, 24 November 2010
- OFT to review planned Thomas Cook – Co-op Travel merger Daily Mail, 7 January 2011
- Competition Commission approves Thomas Cook and Co-operative Travel merger Travel Weekly, 21 July 2011
- ATOL No. 6613
- The Co-operative Membership The Co-operative Group (retrieved 27 August 2013)