When news of Thomas Cook UK, the 178-year old company employing 21,000 people, going into liquidation was announced on 22nd. September 2019, it made headlines. The name is so famous and iconic; so trusted, popular and loved, that it shook the world. And the tremors reached India! With reports of stranded passengers and holidaymakers in the lurch, many people automatically assumed that the one-time “Jewel in the Crown” — Thomas Cook India– was also involved. Naturally, that impacted us too.
Anticipating this, Thomas Cook India swung into damage control mode, and took immediate steps to clarify the situation.
Prior to the news of the liquidation, the Thomas Cook India communications team was alert regarding news that was doing the rounds -– regarding Thomas Cook UK’s future hanging in the balance, as the travel company scrambled to raise an additional £ 200 m to secure an emergency rescue deal.
Prepared for this, our teams at Thomas Cook India charted a plan for positive messaging, and a counter strategy to address any media/consumer confusion.
Post transfer of its entire stake in TCIL to Fairfax, Thomas Cook PLC in the UK ceased to be the promoter of Thomas Cook India from August 2012, and since then, Thomas Cook UK has had no financial or business stake in Thomas Cook India.
The only common element is the usage of the brand name for which TCIL held as an exclusive brand licence covering the regions of India, Sri Lanka and Mauritius until the end of 2024, and which we have now bought for perpetuity.
Additional Regional Media Round Tables (in cities such as Kolkata, Chennai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bengaluru) were set up to reach to local media, and extend positive messaging and key on-ground initiatives/growth trajectories for the brand.
Our teams reached out also through social media, corrective articles, the website and even WhatsApp! We left no stone unturned with letters going out to all our customers, shareholders, investors, trade partners and vendors. Our chairman Madhavan Menon gave exclusive interviews to news channels clarifying everything clearly and assuring the public there was nothing to be concerned about. Videos of happy holiday makers from TCIL proved that it was business as usual and no one was stranded anywhere!
So now, hopefully everyone knows that the Thomas Cook India Group is a completely different entity since August 2012, when it was acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings (Fairfax), a Canada based multinational with varied interests across the globe as well as in India.
Post transfer of its entire stake in Thomas Cook (India) Limited to Fairfax, Thomas Cook UK ceased to be the promoter of Thomas Cook (India) Limited from August 2012 and since then, Thomas Cook UK has had no financial or business stake in Thomas Cook (India) Limited.
And if you come across anyone who is not aware of this, do give them this information!