Hays Travel has signed an exclusive deal to open concessions in WHSmith shops.
The first Hays outlet in a WHSmith shop will open in the latter’s store at Leeds White Rose shopping centre on November 9, followed by another in Exeter, with three more expected to open across the country shortly afterwards.
If they are a success, a further 20 to 30 are likely to follow within a year. Each ‘store within a store’ will have three desks and a bureau de change. Hays has already started recruiting for staff.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Hays Travel managing director John Hays said: “We’ve got a list of 200 stores that could accommodate a Hays Travel concession. We’ll be opening the first five before Christmas.”
The speed of the rollout will depend on how quickly staff are recruited. Each concession will be overseen by an existing, experienced, Hays agent who will manage three recruits.
Agents working in the concessions will be employed on Hays Travel contracts, use the WHSmith stores’ facilities and be entitled to the same benefits as WHSmith staff.
Hays said he was approached by WHSmith, adding: “When I started looking at the brand, I found that WHSmith has a lot of people that visit its stores.
“Its footfall is really high and it is celebrating 225 years in business this year, so there’s a lot of trust and loyalty. It’s a great fit for us and the more I researched it, the more excited I got.”
The concessions will sell the agency’s “normal range of holidays – so short-haul, long-haul and cruise”, said Hays.
Each concession will have the full Hays Travel shop fit, distinctive orange and blue branding, illuminated sign, bespoke desks and brochure racks.
Plasma screens in the main WHSmith shop window will direct customers to concessions.
Hays is not the first agency to open within other high street stores. First Choice Retail opened concessions in Asda in 1999.
Tour operators Virgin Holidays and Kuoni later opened within House of Fraser and John Lewis respectively.