Some of the former Harvey World Travel shops rebranded Vacation World may have to relocate locally because landlords are holding out for “yesteryear rents”.
New, lower rents have been agreed for most of the 25 branches, according to consultant and former Lets Go Travel boss Simon Maunder, who is heading up Vacation World for an interim period.
But some landlords are refusing to budge on price, and may force some stores to move premises, he admitted. Maunder raised the problem of escalating rents in May, when the shops were still operating under the Harvey World Travel brand.
“A handful are sticking out for yesteryear rents, and we may have to reposition these branches. If we are going to refurbish them anyway, then sometimes it’s easier to go to a new site,” he said.
All Vacation World branches – bought when Harvey World Travel went into administration in June – have now been rebranded, and there is a rolling programme to refurbish the shops’ interiors, while technology has also been updated.
Vacation World is run separately to sister company Vacation Travel. Owner Stuart Arnott bought the Harvey World Travel shops from Stella Travel Services UK in April.
The chain also hit all of its targets last month, said Maunder, an achievement that was not expected until the end of the year. He attributed this in part to strong relationships between staff and local customers.
Maunder said: “Vacation World is trading profitably, but some branches are carrying others. The personal relationships between staff and customers are stronger than we anticipated. Some customers have been clients for 20 years, and they don’t care [about the changes] as long as the same person serves them.”
A TV advertising campaign is planned in the West Country to promote the new brand, while smaller advertising campaigns are being rolled out in the north of England to promote Vacation World branches.
Meanwhile, Maunder said morale among staff, of which there are just under 100, was strong.
“The feedback I’ve had from staff is that they feel more empowered now this is a more locally run business, because there was some corporate inertia previously.”