The founder and managing director of Hays Travel, John Hays, has passed away after collapsing in the company’s head office.
The company said in a statement that Hays died on Friday 13 November while doing the job he loved.
Hays co-founded Hays Travel with his wife Irene in 1980, which made roughly $1,500 in sales in the first year, and reached almost $2 billion in sales in 2018 with 160 shops and 1,400 staff.
Hays famously acquired Thomas Cook’s entire retail portfolio last year after the company was placed in compulsory administration, saving more than 2,500 jobs and 500 retail branches across the UK.
“John built Hays Travel into the UK’s largest independent travel agent providing jobs and careers for thousands of young people over 40 years,” the company said in a statement.
“Throughout this past difficult year, he did everything in his power to save jobs and protect the travel industry.
“He was held in immense respect by his staff, colleagues, family and friends and was recognised throughout his life for his many achievements.
“He was equally proud of his loyal staff who, under the direction of the board and senior management team, will ensure that the business continues to serve the customers of the UK’s largest independent travel agent as he would have wanted.”