Thomas Cook has announced plans to close 21 high street stores in the UK, resulting in 320 job losses.

The travel giant said the closures are part of plans to "streamline" its UK retail network under an efficiency programme, and to address changing customer behaviour. 

It pointed to the fact that more and more holidaymakers are switching online, with web bookings accounting for 64% of all Thomas Cook bookings in the UK last year. 

Closures will result in Thomas Cook's retail estate reducing to 566 shops, with the jobs to be lost including 102 customer-facing roles and a further 218 store-based roles removed as part of the review. 

A consultation process with the affected staff and unions has begun.

Thomas Cook's chief of tour operating Will Waggott said today's announcement reflects the wider challenges seen on the high street, with more and more customers choosing to book online.

"These measures will help us to drive greater efficiencies across Thomas Cook so that we relentlessly focus our resources in those areas that give us the greatest opportunity to make a difference to customers in our core holiday offering," Mr Waggott said. 

"Looking ahead, we will be working to ensure that Thomas Cook is fit for the future, putting a rigorous focus on costs in a competitive environment while giving customers more reasons to holiday with the strongest brand in travel," he added. 

The news comes after the travel firm last month said it was exploring options to sell its airline business amid growing concerns over the company's future. 

The firm's shares were hammered at the end of last year following its third profit warning of 2018 and stinging full-year losses. 

Thomas Cook has been hit by charges related to flight disruptions, writedowns on money owed by hotels and transformation costs. 

It was also affected by delayed demand for its tour holidays due to the summer heatwave last year.