Ocean World Travel has opened its first high street store and expanded its holiday offering after 21 years focusing on cruise.
The Southampton-based cruise specialist will now offer land-based beach, family, city and tailor-made breaks after opening the doors to its new shop in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, last week.
It is the first retail venture for the brand, which has a team of eight homeworkers and has moved its staff from offices in Southampton to the larger back office of the Chandler’s Ford store.
David Hearn, Ocean World Travel commercial director, said: “We always talked about having a frontline store and we have finally found the right place.
“We have recognised that selling holidays, particularly cruises, can be complex, and because of this customers want more of a face-to-face experience.
“Having this store is about fulfilling the growing demand by our customers and adding another string to our bow.”
The company was founded in 1995 by Michele Dance and her partner Alan Godfrey, expanding from a back room in their home in Birmingham to a call centre and homeworking team on the south coast.
The company has hired three new staff members to run the store; all have experience of retail for the likes of Thomson and Thomas Cook.
In May the company joined the Advantage Travel Partnership to support its extension into selling all types of holidays.
“The reaction so far has been really positive just from people walking in and finding out who we are. We’re well positioned here in an affluent area and by other shops.
“Our main focus has always been cruise, with 80% of the cruise we sell made of ex-UK sailings but in terms of selling other holidays we are testing the market at the moment with a bit of everything and anything from cruise to beach to tailor-made.”
Hearn said the popularity of the shop would determine growth for the company in the future.
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