The industry’s favourite agent columnist, Maureen Hill, has joined Ambassador Travel as it expands its chain of high street agencies.

Travel Weekly’s popular contributor has left Travel Angels to work in Ambassador’s sixth store, in Gillingham, Dorset.

Ambassador Travel owner Wayne Evans plans to open a seventh agency before the end of the month and is also working on setting up a homeworking division. He said: “It is absolutely wonderful that someone with Maureen’s experience wants to join us.

“It demonstrates that we’re growing fast and becoming a well-respected business.”

Maureen said: “I’m looking forward to working with a forward-looking company, with an owner who believes there is still a place for a truly independent travel agency on the high street.”

Evans, who is a former Met police officer and global credit manager for telecoms giant Logica, started the business in 2009 at a turbulent time for the industry after the collapse of XL Leisure. He has agencies in Cheam, Wells, Newbury, Wantage and Wendover.

He said: “I wanted to find an industry that was high-risk because I like a challenge. Starting when we did was good planning and it has paid off.

“People are coming back to the high street because they want to see who they’re dealing with and they trust bricks and mortar.”

Ambassador is a member of Aito and specialises in the Seychelles and South Africa. Evans said: “Staff can specialise in whatever they want to. I’ve got specialists in cruise, Australia, New Zealand and escorted tours, so I see a natural growth in those areas.

“I’m now working on a package for homeworkers and plan to take it to market in the next six months. I want it to be industry-beating and attract the right sort of people.”