Published: 14:53, 22 October 2019
| Updated: 15:26, 22 October 2019
The manager of the former Thomas Cook store in Sittingbourne has said returning to work was like getting the “band back together”.
Hays Travel snapped up more than 500 branches which used to belong to the defunct travel agent, including stores at The Forum, Sittingbourne, and Sheerness High Street.
Staff thought they had locked up for the last time when news broke of the firm’s demise in September.
But they were thrown a lifeline when the Sunderland-based firm offered employees their jobs back.
Manager at The Forum branch, Chris Keenan, said: “I contacted my old team and put the band back together.
“We were completely in the dark as much as the customers were.
“We were told Thomas Cook collapsed at the same time as everyone else.
“We have lost our years of service and joined on new contracts but it is good to have this reassurance, especially when it is so close to Christmas.”
The father-of-two returned to work on Monday to meet and greet customers with colleagues Jeanette Abbey, Kirstie Hayward, Rae Pittman, Jade Beckwith and Lucy Chamberlain.
They hope to be back booking holidays again by the end of the week.
The branch is also set to get new signs at a date to be agreed.
Elsewhere in the county, six employees have returned to the branch in Deal.
Sales consultant Victoria Dyson, known as Millie in store, said ahead of the opening: "We're all so excited and can't believe how it's turned out. We were feeling that the rug had been pulled right from underneath us but Hays has firmly put it back in place."
Hays Travel is also moving into the Ashford store in County Square and a number of employees will return.