Tui will begin a “staggered re-opening” of its retail network on July 6.

About 80 shops will initially open across all parts of the UK, in addition to more than 750 retail staff already working from home.

About 50% of the estate will be open by the end of July, according to commercial and business development director Richard Sofer, who said that larger branches would be brought back first.

Belinda Vazquez, retail director, said: “We’re really excited to be getting ready to re-open some of our retail stores so that we can support as many of our customers as possible. From July 6, we will gradually begin a staggered reopening of a selection of more than 80 stores with a fairly even split across the regions. We’ll also have more than 750 retail staff working from home available on the phone.”

Speaking on a Travel Weekly Webcast, Sofer added: “By about the end of July, we’ll have about 50% of all of the stores back open. So it will be on a phased basis.

“I think we’ve got about another thousand people starting work very soon. And that will take us to about 2,000 people overall by maybe about mid-July.”

He said that would represent about 50% of the retail workforce.

Sofer added: “We’re going to be opening up the very biggest stores first because clearly, they’re the stores that are the easiest to have social distancing for customers. We’ve got a complete range of stores from very small to very large so we need to do that on quite a considered and phased basis but it’s really important for those customers that being in a retail store is important to.”

Asked if the plan was to re-open all its branches at some point, or whether Tui might leave some permanently closed, Sofer replied: “As at any point, we’re constantly reviewing the locations of our stores and where that makes sense, so those plans and those reviews are ongoing, but very much the focus is about a phased basis of reopening those stores to serve our customers.”

He added: “To be fair, we have to review in a post-crisis, post-virus world. So the plan very much is to open them on a phased basis. We need to review that on an ongoing basis, how that phasing of the re-opening goes.”

Vazquez revealed new health & safety measures would be put in place in the branches that are due to re-open on July 6.

“As always, we’re putting the health and safety of our customers and our people first, which means things may look a little different when people head back into our stores. We’ll have Perspex screens at desks, social distancing markers on the floor and there’ll be extra cleaning and disinfecting.

We’ll continue to follow government advice and we plan to reopen more of our stores throughout July and August as the demand for holidays returns.”

issue18june