(Adds details on expansion plans, executive comment)
Oct 31 (Reuters) - British holiday company Thomas Cook Group Plc plans to open a further 20 own-brand hotels by the end of 2019 including six in Spain, four in Greece and three in Turkey, as it responds to competition from online travel agencies.
The company, which sends holidaymakers to about 3,000 hotels across destinations from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean and elsewhere, said it would also announce further new openings, which would take the company’s portfolio to 200 hotels with about 40,000 rooms.
The company, which pioneered the package holiday concept when it was set up in 1841, also said it removed nine hotels that did not meet brand quality standards. It did not name them.
The expansion comes after Thomas Cook cut its 2018 profit forecast, blaming a heatwave in northern Europe for hitting demand in the most profitable part of the summer season and hurting winter trading.
“Expanding our own-brand hotel portfolio is central to the success of the whole business ... These latest announcements demonstrate further progress in developing our Hotels and Resorts division into a hotel company within Thomas Cook,” said Enric Noguer, chief of Hotels & Resorts.
Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Noor Hussain Zainab in Bengaluru Editing by Alexandra Hudson/Keith Weir