How mismanagement and over-expansion built up the £1.6bn debt mountain ...

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As the travel industry evolved worldwide and online start-ups sprang up challenging existing providers, Thomas Cook ploughed on with a high street business model which became less and less sustainable.

By 2012 the company had been mismanaged so badly it had to undertake a restructuring which left it £1.6bn in debt, comprised of a £1bn bond and a £600m overdraft.

The deal meant the troubled firm had to sell 300 million holidays a year just to make its interest payments and break even - leaving it horribly exposed to further market fluctuations.

It closed 100 loss-making stores in 2017/18 but that wasn't enough, as last year a UK heatwave, coupled with depressed consumer spending caused by fears over Brexit, and the continued increase in online competition created a perfect storm of low demand and over-supply.

The company was on the brink.

CEO Peter Fankhauser

CFO Sten Daugaard,

Thomas Cook's chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, left and its (then-interim, since permanent) chief financial officer, Sten Daugaard, met in December with worried investors

Customers queuing at Thomas Cook check-in desks at Gatwick this morning were unsure whether the company would still be trading when the time comes to fly them home

Customers queuing at Thomas Cook check-in desks at Gatwick this morning were unsure whether the company would still be trading when the time comes to fly them home

Then a month ago the directors, including CEO Peter Fankhauser, and CFO Sten Daugaard - who has only been in place since December of last year - thought they had done a deal which would keep the company afloat.

On August 28, the Group released a statement explaining they had £900m of new money coming in - half from a Chinese consortium and half from their British-based banks and lenders.

They had also agreed that banks would convert most of the money the company already owed into equity in a restructured Thomas Cook - which should have given the troubled firm some breathing room.

Subject to final sign-off from all parties concerned, that deal would have come to fruition next month.

But then, the company says, last week one of the lenders, RBS, got cold feet and demanded an additional £200m 'seasonal stability facility' to cover the winter lull in business in the tourism industry.

And it is that demand for another £200m, on top of the £900m, which has led some to predict financial could come as soon as this weekend. 

Shares in the company dropped by 20 per cent at the start of the day's trading following news of its possible collapse

Shares in the company dropped by 20 per cent at the start of the day's trading following news of its possible collapse

Thomas Cook's chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, and its chief financial officer, Sten Daugaard, met in December with investors worried about the firm's financial strength and strategy.

Investor concerns were exacerbated when the firm gave a vague outlook for 2019 adding to fears over the impact of Brexit or another crisis in an important package holiday destination such as Turkey.

The travel company scrapped its dividend last year in an effort to retain cash and blamed a disappointing year on the prolonged summer heatwave across Europe, which meant people delayed their bookings, especially in the UK.

Many travel firms also had to discount their packages heavily in the late booking market.

However, investors also suspect the firm overbooked hotel room capacity, particularly in highly competitive Spanish destinations, forcing it to discount heavily as the market softened.

In late 21018 analysts feared the firm was facing structural challenges – beyond the one-off problems caused by the unusually hot summer – that would require significant changes to

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