One of the UK’s best known travel brands is set to disappear after owner Tui said it plans to use a single brand to promote its holidays.
The Thomson name, which dates back to 1965, will be ditched along with First Choice as part of a transition expected to take up to three years.
Thomson and First Choice catered for 5.2 million holidaymakers last year, with the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Greece the most popular destinations.
The consolidation behind the Tui brand comes after Tui Travel in the UK merged with its German parent company Tui AG to create a business with more than 300 hotels, 136 planes and 1,800 shops across Europe selling holidays to 30 million customers in 180 countries.
Joint chief executive Peter Long said the firm would begin phasing out regional brands in the Netherlands and France, with First Choice and Thomson as the last to go. He said: “These will be the last to be rebranded because of their size. It will give us time to learn as we go. The move is aimed at strengthening our position in our markets.”
The Thomson brand was established in 1965 by Canadian media baron Roy Thomson.
Tui also said it was putting its UK hotel booking website, LateRooms, up for sale as it unveiled narrower half-year losses. Late-Rooms generated sales of €31m (£22m) in the six months to the end of March, with an underlying loss of €9m.
Overall group losses were reduced to €272.6m, from €341.4m a year earlier.
Winter sales were 1 per cent higher than a year ago, with strong holidaymaker bookings in the UK, Germany and the Benelux countries. Average selling prices were also up 1 per cent.
Tui said it was pleased with current trading, with its summer holidays 59 per cent sold, in line with last year, with the UK and Benelux countries trading well.
Long said that long-haul destinations were faring well, with Jamaica up 22 per cent on last year and Mexico up 37 per cent over the same period.
He added: “Now the UK general election is over, it gives clarity to everyone, including consumers who have increasing amounts of disposable income to spend.”
The group reiterated that it was on track to grow underlying profits by between 10 and 15 per cent this year.
Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson, who has a “buy” rating on Tui’s shares, said: “We suspect it’s running slightly ahead of this. Current trading looks robust with summer bookings ahead by 2 per cent with prices ahead by 1 per cent, which is a slight acceleration on the 1 per cent booking growth last reported.
“The group also continues to make progress against its targets for online bookings and unique content – a key component of profit growth.”