Thomas Cook Group

“We have the right strategy,” says CEO Fankhauser

Thomas Cook needs to win back investor confidence after disappointing results this year but has the right strategy to get back to profit, CEO Peter Fankhauser told fvw in an interview.

December 11, 2018
Thomas Cook Group CEO Peter Fankhauser
Photo: Claus Brechenmacher, Reiner Baumann

Europe’s second-biggest holiday firm slumped into the red in the year ending September due to weak tour operator bookings this summer, prompting investors to sell off shares in large numbers. The UK business made a small loss and profits dropped in Continental Europe but the airline division improved its operating profit.

“We have to win back the trust of shareholders and look ahead,” Fankhauser told fvw. “We have support from all sides and are convinced that we are following the right strategy.” The situation is not comparable with 2011, as the company has the support of its banks, has no cash problems and has a clear strategy, he underlined.

Fankhauser continued: “We are (financially) solid but we must improve the results and implement our strategy more quickly. 20 new hotels from our own brands will open in 2019 alone.”

The CEO said that this year’s results “cannot be whitewashed” but “they do not question the strategy”. He emphasised: “Our hotel brands, and especially the new concepts like Casa Cook and Cook’s Club are functioning superbly, just like the ancillary products. These positive effects were wiped out this year by the impact of the heatwave on booking behaviour and the problems in the aviation market.”

Asked about the focus for Germany next year, Fankhauser said: “We want to make our own hotels even more attractive for customers to improve the occupancy rates. We are winning new customers with concepts such as Cook’s Club, and with every guest we are earning not only as a tour operator but also on the hotel side.”

In addition, Cook wants to strengthen its sales activities in Germany, both with more franchise travel agencies and more online sales, he added.

In the 2017/18 financial results statement, Fankhauser had said that Thomas Cook Group “must learn from 2018” by reducing risk capacity and committed flight capacity, and focusing more on “higher quality, higher-margin hotels and destinations, with clearer processes and incentives to ensure these are prioritised through our retail and online sales network”.

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