TRAVEL company Hays Travel has said it will buy all 555 stores from Thomas Cook after the holiday company collapsed late last month.

It has boosted the hopes of Thomas Cook staff who lost their jobs when the company folded.

Hays has already recruited 421 of the staff and has offered employment to more of the airline's personnel.

All passengers who were stuck abroad have been returned to the UK following a repatriation organised by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

The deal will boost the high street presence of Hays, the UK's largest independent travel group.

"This represents an important step in the liquidation process, as we seek to realise the company's assets," said David Chapman, the official receiver of Thomas Cook.

John and Irene Hays, managing director and group chair of Hays Travel, said: "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them."