High-street travel agency chain Premier Travel has furloughed the majority of its shop staff while retaining a core team working from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

The agency, which has 25 high-street branches across East Anglia, was forced to shut its shops from March 24 after the government told all non-essential retailers to close as part of a ‘stay-at-home’ lockdown.

Of its 100 agency staff, 67 are being furloughed from April 1 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This means they have been asked to take a leave of absence from work but have not been made redundant. The government has pledged to pay 80% of their salary during the period they are not working.

Premier has set up a virtual call centre operated by a core group of around 33 shop staff from home, backed up by an operational team also working from home, to continue to help clients during the coronavirus crisis.

Retail director Paul Water said the moves would safeguard the future of the business and its staff.

He said: “By taking these actions we can navigate through this crisis and be in a strong position to bounce back when this is all behind us.


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“Our staff have been tremendous during this challenging period. We have always said it is the people that make Premier and how our teams have responded thus far has certainly lived up to this.”

Staff remained in good spirits, he said, and the business had taken steps to ensure it supported the mental health of all its employees during this time.

Waters added that the call centre team continued to deal with rebookings and bringing clients back to the UK.

He said: “We, like so many of our colleagues across the industry, are also working hard to get customers home from overseas and are in constant dialogue with our customers to rebook holidays that have been cancelled or need amending for future dates.”