TUI Travel has ruled out large-scale shop closures despite creating the UK’s largest high-street multiple.
First Choice and TUI merged this week to form a network of 928 shops in the UK and has pledged to retain separate First Choice and Thomson brands on the high street. Rival Thomas Cook Group has 806 shops.
New UK and Ireland TUI Travel managing director Dermot Blastland said shops will be reviewed on an individual basis depending on lease renewals and profitability – and the group will not close First Choice and Thomson branches simply because they co-exist on the same high street.
He said: “If we have got two shops that are in a busy high street and both are doing well and leases are not coming up for renewal, we will not close one as a matter of principle.”
He admitted both networks had poor performers because of rents being too high or new competitors opening up, but said that the cost of getting out of a lease, even for a loss-making shop, was not always financially viable.
The news will come as a relief to the combined shop workforce and contrasts with rival Thomas Cook Group’s decision to close 151 shops by the end of the year following the merger of MyTravel and Thomas Cook earlier this summer.
The difference between the First Choice and Thomson shop networks is understood to be part of the reason why no large-scale shop closures are planned, although back-office functions for the retail division are likely to be merged.
First Choice opened 35 shops this year and has a mix of out-of-town hypermarkets, supermarket implants, and franchise stores, as well as traditional high-street outlets.
Thomson, in comparison, has streamlined its business and operates mainly traditional high-street branches.
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