GOING Places is in talks with would-be buyers to sell
15 of its 35 shops which are up for sale. MyTravel UK retail distribution
managing director Dave Harris said the company was still looking for potential purchasers
for the remaining 20 empty shops, dismissing reports shop closures will top
50-plus. “There are 35 closed shops and of those 15 are in the hands of
solicitors with would-be tenants. It is no different to any retail business
where there are a proportion of shops you are trying to get shot of,” he said.
The shops have been shut and put up for sale over the
last two years in a closure programme based on locations where there are
duplicate stores or where businesses are loss-making.
Most shops sold so far have been bought by non-travel
companies, such as bakery chain Greggs and computer-games retailer Game.
Harris said Going Places was now “very comfortable”
with the 680-strong shop network and ruled out plans to downsize significantly.
“It would be detrimental to our ability to sell in-house and third-party
product if we had an estate much smaller than the one we have now.”
He said Going Places would “try its damnedest” not to
shut any current loss-making stores. “We’d try to improve the trading
performance of a shop before we’d close it,” he said.
Harris added he was “flabbergasted” at how well morale
had held up among retail staff and said communication had vastly improved
following a recent “openness” drive.
Meanwhile, Going Places
launched its early sales promotion for summer 2004 at the weekend. This
includes shop offers of free insurance, £50 free foreign currency and free
airport car parking, and Airtours Holidays deals of nil flight supplements and
free child places. MyTravel’s television campaign is due to start this week
with advertisements going under the Clever Bookers theme used last year.
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