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ITT 2010: Cook to open up to 30 shops as web sales ‘plateau’

Thomas Cook will open 20-30 shops this year and is even looking at adding some in locations where it has previously closed branches.

The new shops will be in addition to the 30 new Going Places branches the group recently announced, and will be located where the company believes there are gaps in its portfolio.

The openings will take Thomas Cook’s network from 790 to 850 shops.

Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said the new shops also reflected the fact that sales of package holidays over the web had “plateaued” and that the high street still dominated for early sales.

Speaking at the ITT conference in Benidorm, he said: “You will see some reinvestment going on in the high street. When it comes to people buying their main summer holiday, which they have saved for, shopped for and even dieted for, they don’t want to screw it up, so speaking to an agent in a shop is crucial.

“We have identified some gaps, either where the high street has moved, or where we previously closed shops but now might want to open one again.”

He suggested some new shops could come through acquisition of struggling businesses, but added that
third party retailers remained vital to his business.

“A total of 70% of our business comes from our inhouse channels, but that’s about it. We’ll always be knocking on others’ doors.”

Cook’s expansion plans reflect moves from other travel companies. Gill’s Cruise Centre, Teletext and Kuoni all opened new shops this week.

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