Thomas Cook, hotels, resorts, summer, heatwave, trend, holidays, tour operator, profit warning, loss, Europe, leisure market, UK
Casa Cook property (photo: Thomas Cook Group)

Cook blames weather for profit warning

The operator says that “many customers” were put off booking holidays this summer, deciding instead to stay at home.

Thomas Cook Group has revised its full-year profit forecast downwards this morning, to £280 million (€312 million) from £323 million following this summer’s heatwave.

The tour operator complains that “many customers” had put off booking holidays abroad, deciding instead to stay at home to enjoy the sunshine without having to go anywhere.

This led to “higher than usual levels of discounting” this summer, in particular in August and September. Thomas Cook’s shares plunged by around 20% after the warning.

Cook usually makes all of its annual profits during the summer, but it is also warning that the impact of the heatwave “is continuing to be felt into winter trading”, the BBC reports.

Partly because of the return in popularity of Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, total bookings for the summer period were 12% higher than for the same period last year. But average selling prices were 5% lower.

“Our recent trading performance is clearly disappointing,” said Peter Fankhauser, chief executive of Thomas Cook.

“However, despite the recent challenges, we continue to make good strategic progress, which positions us well to drive further performance improvement; this includes the launch of our Expedia alliance in the UK and Scandinavia, signing our first own-brand hotel in China and lining up a pipeline of 10 new Cook’s Clubs in some of our key destinations for summer 2019.”

Late trend
There is a growing trend towards greater numbers of late bookings, with almost 80% of all trips being booked within three months of the travel date, Patricia Yates, director of Visit Britain, told the BBC.

Thomas Cook’s rival Tui Group is sticking to its full-year profit forecast for now but says the heatwave means it is unlikely to exceed this forecast.

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