The closure of more than 150 multiple shops is helping drive independent agency sales for summer 2008, says the trade.

Advantage commercial director Julia Lo Bue-Said said Advantage’s 600 members are around 10% up on sales since the beginning of the year. Last week saw them finish 20% ahead of the same week in 2007. This is against a market believed to be around 3% down.

Cosmos sales director Andy Washington said independent agents were driving the operator’s sales for summer 2008, ­accounting for 60% of bookings since Christmas. The operator is 44% up on summer 2008 sales since Christmas and, last week, was 75% ahead of the same week the previous year.

Plimsoll Publishing senior analyst David Pattison is confident operators should do well this year with 79% of the top 1,000 predicted to benefit even if the economy plunges.

This is because 17% of ­operators surveyed have ­arranged external finance for expansion, while 30% have enough money for acquisitions should any bargains appear.