Tour operator sun4u is defying the recession by expanding into the high street with its own travel agency based in a coffee shop.

Sun4u, which has been operating for five years, began trading from its travel shop yesterday (March 2) in Birmingham in the first of a number of planned high street openings across the West Midlands. The shop will sell sun4u holidays and product from other travel companies.

The operator also aims to build on its relationship with the trade. It currently works with 200 independent agents who book through a dedicated site,

Sun4u chief executive Simon Purchase said the downturn had helped the company realise its ambitions to get onto the high street.

“Lots of landlords are offering very competitive prices and we’ve been offered very favourable terms which has enabled us to keep costs at a reasonable level,” said Purchase.

The agency has a staff of two who have over 20 years’ experience between them as well as managing director Tina Patel. “Now we have also joined Elite who have been very supportive,” added Purchase.

The Birmingham outlet is just the beginning, said Purchase. “The guys who own the Coffee Lounge have quite a few others and if this is successful we can roll it out across the West Midlands.

“Our target for 2009/10 is to have four to five outlets but the next one we are looking at is Sheffield where we have a call centre and so know what the catchment is like.”