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Some customers face price rises from high street travel merger

Thomas Cook/Co-op deal 'will not harm competition'

Thomas Cook shop front

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Some customers may see price rises as a result of the retail merger between Thomas Cook and the Co-operative Travel,  the Competition Commission said today.

However, the increases will be restricted to certain areas, and will be “small, sporadic and eroded over time”, according to the Commission’s findings.

The Commission gave provisional permission today for Thomas Cook’s 780 shops to become part of a joint venture with the Co-operative Travel’s 360 shops and the Midlands Co-operative’s 100 outlets.

Price rises ‘limited’

It said that customers were unlikely to suffer from significantly higher prices as the scope for increases would be limited by the increasing role of the internet in travel bookings and the growth of rivals to Cook and the Co-op. 

Any price rises were likely to come in specific areas through reductions in discounts offered to customers.

The Commission also found there was unlikely to be significantly reduced choice, although it did state that the most likely outcome of the merger was for the joint venture stores to favour Thomas Cook’s own holidays over other operators in much the same way as its own stores did now.

However, it found that the number of tour operators likely to be affected would be small and the impact on competition would be “negligible”.

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