The Co-operative Group has merged its travel business with Thomas Cook.

The tie-up will create the UK's largest high street travel network with more than 1,200 shops.

Thomas Cook will hold 70% of the shares in the combined company, with The Co-op retaining a 30% stake.

Earlier this year, The Co-op reported a 5.9% drop in sales to £246m in its travel division and operating losses of £2.3m.

“This deal is in line with The Co-op’s wider strategy to link with like-minded brands that share our values, so as to improve our offer to our customer-members through the additional scale benefits they can bring,” said The Co-op chief executive Peter Marks.

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