90s ad for Thomas Cook travel agents.

The Company was founded by Thomas Cook, a cabinet-maker, in 1841 to carry temperance supporters by railway between the cities of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham.

In 1851 the founder arranged transport to the Great Exhibition of 1851. He organised his first tours to Europe in 1855 and to the United States in 1865.

In 1884 John Mason Cook, the founder’s son, attempted to relieve General Gordon from Khartoum.

In 1928 the business was sold to the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grandes Express Européens, operator of the Orient Express. In 1948 it was acquired by Britain’s mainline railway companies. It was then bought by a consortium of Midland Bank, Trusthouse Forte and the Automobile Association in 1972 and by WestLB in 1995. In 1999 it merged with Carlson Leisure.

In 2000 the Company sold off its worldwide Foreign Exchange business to Travelex to concentrate on tours and holidays.

After the market depression, particularly following September 11, 2001 attacks, the Company started a disinvestment programme, disposing of subsidiaries and business ventures.

In 2002 the Company was acquired by C&N Touristic AG, a German Group, who in turn changed their own name to Thomas Cook AG.

On December 21, 2005, Thomas Cook AG, sold off Thomas Cook International Markets, a venture which includes 60% of the stake in Thomas Cook India Ltd to Dubai Financial LLC, a part of the Dubai Investment Group (DIG) which manages the financial and real estate interests of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai.

Then in 2006 Dubai Financial LLC acquired a licience to use the Thomas Cook name in the Middle East. Thomas Cook Middle East consists of the Middle East region, which has experienced a boom in travel and tourism, especially in places like Dubai, Qatar, Oman and so on.

Also in 2006 Thomas Cook Canada was sold to Transat A.T. marking Thomas Cook’s exit from the North American market.

In 2006 Thomas Cook AG became wholly owned by KarstadtQuelle.

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