Thomas Cook branch in Dalkeith to close

The Dalkeith branch of Thomas Cook is set to close, putting five jobs at risk.

One of 18 branches in Scotland earmarked for closure, the High Street travel agent has not been meeting performance targets, a company spokesman told the Advertiser.

Thomas Cook announced last Wednesday that it was to cut 2,500 jobs in the UK and close almost 200 stores as it attempts to revive its profitability.

A 90-day consultation process with employees has already begun.

Joanna Wild, managing director of the Thomas Cook Co-operative retail network, said: “As a large retailer we regularly review our network to make sure we have the right stores in the right places for our customers and regrettably there are occasions where we need to close certain branches.

“Following careful consideration, we have announced that eighteen stores are proposed to close in Scotland and we are working with those colleagues who are affected.

“We’d like to thank both our colleagues and customers for the commitment and understanding during this process.”

Thomas Cook reported pre-tax losses of £485.3 million in the last financial year to September, and has already closed 149 stores across the UK.

Describing the closure as “bad news” for the high street, Dalkeith businessman Gordon Henderson, Scotland’s senior development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), believes that a mixed use of vacant shops is the way forward: “We cannot have four or five major retailing towns in a region [Midlothian] that has two out of town shopping centres nearby.

“Shopping habits are changing, with around half of shoppers now shopping online. Councillors need to accept this and stop insisting that the solution to improve shopping is more shops.”

“Many people are now working from home and that is not through choice. We should be doing everything we can to encourage home workers to work alongside other people in a shared social environment.”