Hays Travel has agreed a deal to buy all 555 Thomas Cook stores in the UK, saying its expansion could lead to 2,500 jobs being saved.

Hays, the country’s largest independent travel agent, told Sky News it had already taken on 494 ex-Thomas Cook employees and job offers were pending for many more.

There were 9,000 staff in the UK who lost out when the company collapsed last month – prompting the country’s biggest peacetime repatriation exercise to recover more than 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad.

The Isle of Wight’s only Thomas Cook branch closed in Newport last month.

Hays Travel, Shanklin

Hays Travel has stores on the Island in Shanklin, Ryde and Newport.

Hays said more than 100 of the new jobs would be based at its Sunderland headquarters, with the rest in shops across the UK.