LAID-OFF Thomas Cook staff from Stroud have been handed the perfect Christmas present by landing jobs with Miles Morgan Travel.

The Stroud branch is set to open before Christmas and will bring Miles Morgan Travel portfolio to 18 shops, including their long-standing operation in Nailsworth.

Managing director Miles Morgan had originally hoped to take on the leases of the former Cook shops but found other premises in central locations following news Hays was taking on the leases of all Cook’s former 555 shops.

Morgan credited the availability of top-notch travel consultants for making it easier to expand.

He told Travel Weekly: “The crown jewels of any shop are the staff.

“The biggest challenge for anyone opening shops is finding the staff because they are not around any more. Finding locations is easy, the killer ingredient is the people.”

He added: “We are in a good place with our retail estate. These are great travel agents and they don’t grow on trees.”

Staff are currently undergoing their induction.

Former manager of Cook’s Cirencester branch Tina Morrison will manage the Stroud store, she said: “It’s completely different (working for an independent) but very exciting.

“Being part of a smaller company means I am not a number; I’ve met Miles several times already and he has made me feel special at a time that was not very nice.”

She admitted she and her staff had faced an uncertain future before being recruited by Morgan.

“It was a really worrying time; I didn’t know how I was going to put food on the table,” she said.

“They are both sensational sellers and they have a massive customer following and were at Thomas Cook for more than 30 years,” he added.