THE fear of being the victim of violent robbery is turning agents away from the potential revenue-spinning opportunities of selling foreign exchange.
The anxiety has been heightened following last week’s robbery at Bradford agency Universal Express, when employees at the family-run business were tied up and beaten. The raiders shot dead police woman Sharon Beshenivsky and escaped with just £2,000.
Recently, more agents have been looking at selling currency as a way of making extra revenue to compensate for dwindling commission payments. The consortia have all encouraged members to offer the service, while Thomas Cook has said it wants to increase the amount of foreign exchange sold in its shops.
But some agents say they won’t take the risk. Peter Goord Travel proprietor Anthony Goord said: “Agents should not highlight the fact they have got money in the building. We made the business decision to never sell foreign exchange. It’s not worth it. I would rather be secure. I don’t want to put my staff at risk.”
Last Friday’s brutal robbery has prompted agents who do sell currency to take extra precautions. Lincoln-based Imp Travel director Paul Brewer, who introduced foreign exchange a year ago, said: “I’ve been meaning to get an illuminated currency board but am thinking twice about that now. Selling currency is definitely a way to make decent money, but it’s certainly not a service we advertise. I won’t have a dedicated exchange booth because it draws attention to the fact you hold cash. But I won’t stop doing exchange.”
Advantage managing director John McEwan said: “There are no reasons to tone down our drive for more foreign exchange business, but if members want to go into it they must have the right security. We will help with security and use professional advice in shops.”
He added some shops did ask for panic buttons, alarms and screens, but entry systems are only installed in the most at-risk areas.
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