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Legal partnership is just the ticket

Legal partnership is just the ticket

Hays Travel Limited is the largest independent travel agent in the UK. Headquartered in Sunderland, it has over 470 branches across the country, employing 3,000+ staff. We’ve worked with this family-owned company for over 30 years providing legal advice on property, commercial, corporate and banking matters.

The challenge

We have supported Hays Travel with numerous acquisitions and disposals over the years.

In 2019 we supported on its most significant deal yet as it acquired the entire retail portfolio of 555 former Thomas Cook stores after it collapsed in September of that year. We were required to act extremely quickly, advising our client in a competitive bid process. When Hays Travel were named as the preferred bidder, our real estate team worked closely with our corporate, insolvency and employment teams to swiftly exchange contracts with the liquidators to acquire the whole portfolio, securing over 2000 jobs in the process and allowing Hays Travel to triple its existing retail footprint.  

The solution

The large team of lawyers, managed by Deborah Lazenby in our real estate team, streamlined approaches, ensured consistency and liaised closely with multi-jurisdictional solicitors and agents involved in the project as well as the in-house team at Hays Travel Limited and the solicitors acting for the liquidators/joint special manager (JSM).  Our real estate team worked to negotiate new leases and other property-specific documents with individual landlords within the timescales agreed.  

Meanwhile, our real estate disputes team dealt exclusively with all manner of landlord and tenant matters arising from the incoming portfolio, all with the focus on ensuring that Hays Travel could trade from the stores. This meant liaising closely not only with solicitors for the JSM but also multiple landlords nationwide, preserving ’54 Act renewal lease positions where possible, fending off threats of forfeiture, considering insolvency procedures on multiple notices to elect a, pursuing issued lease renewals and providing general strategic advice across the portfolio.

We worked with Hays Travel to develop an interactive information smart sheet which listed all of the properties, the identity of the landlords and their solicitors, who at Muckle was the fee earner dealing with that property, and the status of each individual transaction. This enabled Hays Travel to see and understand in real-time and at-a-glance how the transactions were proceeding.

The impact

The deal tripled the size of Hays’ retail estate and added 2,300 staff to the Sunderland-based company’s payroll.

We continue to deal with the ongoing formalisation of individual stores and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic as well as acting for Hays Travel Limited generally.


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