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Thomas Cook: A strategic failure

After 178 years in business, Thomas Cook, the pioneering tour operator, is announcing its bankruptcy on 23 September 2019. This marks the demise of a giant with sales of ¤10 billion and more than 20,000 employees. Thomas Cook is the creator of the modern tourism industry. Yet the sector appears dynamic, with regular growth outstripping that of global GDP and a global turnover of more than 1,700 billion dollars. Behind the industry's dynamism, we need to look at what might explain Thomas Cook's difficulties. Indeed, the bankruptcy of this leader is illustrative of the upheavals transforming the sector, in particular the development of online services, which have led to the emergence of new players. However, explanations based on external causes are certainly useful, but insufficient. They need to be supplemented by an internal analysis, which shows Thomas Cook to be a paper tiger, due in particular to questionable strategic choices and a debt burden that has become unsustainable.
The case provides an opportunity to apply the tools of strategic analysis and to reflect on the causes of bankruptcy. It can also be used to fuel a more general discussion, as it illustrates the issues, encountered in many industries, linked to the appearance of new forms of competition and the emergence of new business models based on the development of digital technologies.
Objectifs pédagogiques
- Be able to analyse a situation, understand it and summarise it (use data to justify arguments)
- Work as part of a team (discuss contradictory arguments and take a collective position in a situation where there is no obvious right or wrong answer)
- Be critical: understand the advantages and limitations of analytical models
- Be able to identify and analyse upheavals in the sector and their impact on the business models of competitors
- Know how to select the relevant data to assess the strategic issues in an industry and the strategic choices made by companies
- Understand, apply and comment on strategic analysis tools
- Be able to formulate hypotheses using the information available in a situation of uncertainty as to the correct answer (in this case: reflection on the strategic choices that could have been made to avoid bankruptcy)
Strategic analysis, external analysis, internal analysis, bankruptcy, Pestel, Porter's model, key success factors, segmentation, Strategic Group Map, Financial ratios (ROA, ROE...), diversification
- Business Schools and Engineering school
- University: Bachelor, Master 1 and Master 2
- MBA & Executive Education
Secteur d'activité
Travel agency and tour operator activities
Caractéristiques particulières
Debriefing PPT: 41 slides
Livraison par lien de téléchargement
plus de 3 heures (3 to 4 hours)
63 - Services auxiliaires des transports et agences de voyages
Oui (11 pages) - incluse

Adhérents : 360,00 € HT / Non adhérent : 720,00 € HT
* Usage illimité pour un campus sans limite de nombre d'étudiants.

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Etude de cas
Thomas Cook : un échec stratégique