Thomas Cook dinner: Former bosses deny accountability for collapse

Manny Fontenla-Novoa and Harriet Green

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Manny Fontenla-Novoa and Harriet Inexperienced had been questioned by MPs

A former Thomas Cook dinner chief government has denied contributing to the collapse of the journey agency.


Manny Fontenla-Novoa advised MPs wanting into the demise collection of acquisitions below his watch had not left the agency with unmanageable debt.

However Harriet Inexperienced, who succeeded him, advised the listening to on Wednesday she inherited a “enormous wall of debt”.

The latest chief government, Peter Fankhauser, has additionally blamed debt as a contributory issue within the collapse.


Mr Fontenla-Novoa advised MPs on the enterprise, vitality and industrial technique choose committee that his technique, together with acquisitions resembling a 2007 merger with MyTravel, had left the corporate “in nice form” for future development.

When challenged by committee chair Rachel Reeves, who cited proof to MPs by Mr Fankhauser that he had “had his palms tied” and located his job “not possible” because of the debt, Mr Fontenla-Novoa stated: “I am unable to settle for that, as a result of if Peter felt that, then perhaps they need to have completed one thing about that debt.

“They need to have checked out what we did in 2010 in disposing of some property. Possibly they need to have completed that earlier. In the event that they’d believed that they may not service that debt, they need to have completed one thing about it earlier than 2019.”


Revenue warnings

Mr Fontenla-Novoa stated that from about 2011, after he had left the enterprise, Thomas Cook dinner “shrank capability” in actual phrases by lowering the variety of accessible seats on plane or resort rooms.

“You take a look at turnover in 2010, it was £9bn. You take a look at turnover in 2019, [it was] £9bn, which in impact, due to inflation, capability has gone down,” Mr Fontenla-Novoa stated.

“In the identical time frame, Jet2holidays have grown from nowhere to 4 million passengers a 12 months. On the Seaside have grown from nowhere to 1.6 million passengers a 12 months. Love Holidays, comparable quantities. I imagine there was development available in the market. I imagine we might have grown with that development available in the market. As an alternative, Thomas Cook dinner… has shrunk, rivals have grown.”


Ms Reeves cited Mr Fankhauser’s feedback that Thomas Cook dinner couldn’t have grown as a result of it was spending £150m to £170m per 12 months servicing debt.

Nonetheless, Mr Fontenla-Novoa stated it “was not about shopping for companies or investing in know-how, it is concerning the capability that you just put onto .”

Former chief government Harriet Inexperienced stated she had inherited in 2012 “three revenue warnings, an enormous wall of debt, and a enterprise mannequin that was totally out of sync with the business.”


“That is what I fought for 28 months, 22 hours a day, to alter. And my accountability is that I failed to finish that. This can be a model that was liked, with workers as loyal and as superb as I’ve seen wherever on the planet,” she added.


Ms Inexperienced, who now works for IBM, stated she had carried out a technique that was extra centered on know-how, however was requested to depart her submit by the chairman earlier than she had totally carried out it.

Thomas Cook dinner, whose founder was born through the Industrial Revolution, was Britain’s oldest vacation firm earlier than going into liquidation in September. This put round 9,000 UK jobs in danger and left 150,000 holiday-makers abroad, who had been repatriated at an estimated value of £100m to the taxpayer.


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Getty Pictures

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Former Thomas Cook dinner workers protested exterior Parliament after the corporate went into liquidation

Mr Fankhauser final week advised MPs on the committee that the corporate was dragged down by its money owed, which reached over £1.4bn in 2018. “I am sorry for not having the ability to flip round this firm at tempo and to actually pay again this debt.


“Since 2012 we paid £1.2bn of curiosity prices and refinancing prices. Think about if we had solely half of that reinvested within the enterprise, we might have been sooner,” Mr Fankhauser stated.

Former senior Thomas Cook dinner executives advised the BBC the corporate’s debt issues started with the MyTravel merger. “We had been advised we’re carrying this debt from a deal that was completed a few years in the past and now we have this baggage round our necks,” stated one former government, who requested to not be recognized.

“What which means is we have now to promote about 2,000 holidays to even pay a really small piece of that debt again. What we’re doing is basically working to pay again the curiosity,” she stated.


The 12 months after the MyTravel deal, Mr Fontenla-Novoa was awarded a £5m bonus. He stated it was “not for delivering the deal” however “for delivering the synergies”. He stated “these synergies weren’t simply delivered, they had been audited by exterior auditors”.