TRAVEL agents in South Lakeland are expected to find out today if their branches are among those earmarked for closure.

Thomas Cook has announced a 90-day consultation on plans to shut 76 stores nationwide and 119 of its Co-operative Travel branches.

Thomas Cook has shops in Kendal, Ulverston, Barrow and Penrith, as well as a Co-operative Travel branch in Grange-over-Sands.

It has not publically said which may close but is expected to later today (Weds March 6).

Shopworkers’ Union Usdaw says the company is restructuring its business due to growing competition from the internet.

For those that survive the decision, it will mean changes to its management structure by replacing store managers with ‘cluster managers’ and removing a layer of management in larger branches, say Usdaw.

Sharon Ainsworth, of USDAW, said: "We were well aware of the challenges that Thomas Cook have been facing in turning their UK business around, but the scale and severity of these redundancies will come as a real shock to our members.

"We will be using the 90-day consultation period to urge the business to look at every possible alternative to redundancy for these hardworking staff.”

Thomas Cook employs 15,500 people across the UK and around 2,500 jobs are at risk, although these are said by the company to be 'mostly in back-office functions and its retail network.'

Peter Fankhauser, CEO said: "It is never easy to make decisions that impact directly on our people, but we also owe it to our customers to shape the business effectively and ensure that, when they book their holiday with us, our administrative costs are as low as possible. "

"As we improve and develop our online capabilities, maintaining a strong presence on the High Street is an important part of our omni-channel strategy. Even after these changes, we will still have one of the largest retail networks in UK travel.”

Thomas Cook started 172 years ago as international travel company following the success of a one-day rail excursion at a shilling a head from Leicester to Loughborough on 5 July 1841.