One of the UK’s largest travel agents has said it will save thousands of jobs at Thomas Cook after a deal to buy all 555 of the company’s stores around the UK.

Hays Travel has already employed 597 members of Thomas Cook staff since the travel group went out of business last month.

The company now intends to reopen some shops as early as Thursday, potentially saving up to 2,500 jobs in total.

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It is understood 12 stores in Glasgow are set to be saved by the decision, with others in Clydebank, Coatbridge, Greenock, Lanark and Paisley also set to be bailed out.

Husband and wife team Irene and John Hays, who own the travel agent, said the company burned the midnight oil, signing the deal to buy the shops at 11.53pm on Tuesday.

“We are looking to employ as many Thomas Cook staff as possible and we are reaching out to them,” said Mr Hays.

He confirmed the Thomas Cook brand would be wiped from the high street as its shops are rebranded with the Hays name.

Meanwhile, the company will consider the future of under-performing shops in places where Hays and Thomas Cook sites overlap. It has already approached around 140 landlords but the deal guarantees landlords will get paid until the end of December.

The 178-year-old Thomas Cook folded on September 23 after failing to secure a last-minute rescue deal.

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The news left around 150,000 passengers stranded abroad, the last of whom were returned to the UK on Monday.

“This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement,” said Jim Tucker, a KPMG partner who was appointed joint special manager of Thomas Cook’s retail division after the failure.

“It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees, and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street.”

Mr Tucker said the administrators would work with Hays to “ensure a smooth transition of the store estate”.

He added: “We are pleased to have achieved this in a short timeframe and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties.”

Hays was founded in County Durham 40 years ago and reached £1 billion in sales last year. It has 190 shops and 1,900 employees.