When Kuoni opened its first two shops on the high street in 2008, it claimed the move was just about making the brand “more accessible”. More shops then followed, before it signed its deal to be John Lewis’s exclusive travel concession partner in 2012.

Roll on a few years and it now has a network of almost 60, with plans to be at 65 by the end of this year.

By anyone’s standards, it makes Kuoni a pretty sizeable retailer, and increasingly a ‘proper’ retailer at that, as it sells an ever-wider range of other suppliers’ premium products.

Managing director Derek Jones told me this week that he could see a time when 20% of everything Kuoni stores sell would be from third-party suppliers. That’s some departure from its tour operating DNA.

What was clear from our conversation was the value Kuoni sees in its agents, and how a tentative foray into what was being touted as a dying channel nearly a decade ago has yielded pretty impressive returns.

As a result, it will be no surprise if we see a number of agents from Kuoni’s own-brand and partner stores in the running for the biggest and best travel agent accolades – the Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards 2017 – which launch this week.

The AAAs are the undisputed benchmark of quality and achievement in the agency sector, regardless of sales channel, and the fact that last year’s 850-capacity event sold out three months in advance is testament to the high esteem in which they are held.

Make sure you’re in the running by heading to page 16 and checking out agentachievementawards.co.uk