WTM 2019: Barrhead Travel targeting 10 new shops by Christmas

Barrhead Travel aims to have 10 new shops open by Christmas as it pursues ambitious expansion plans in the wake of the Thomas Cook collapse.

Barrhead last week announced plans to open seven new stores and intends to unveil the locations of three further shops in the coming weeks.

Speaking at WTM in London, Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson said the new stores would be staffed by both former Thomas Cook agents and non-Cook recruits, with the teams currently undergoing training.

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Ninan Chacko, chief executive of Barrhead Travel’s parent company Travel Leaders Group, said the failure of Thomas Cook had presented an opportunity to accelerate Barrhead’s expansion plans, but insisted the company would not make any hasty decisions.

He said: “The silver lining to the Thomas Cook cloud is that it has demonstrated the value of the travel agent, and at Travel Leaders we see a strong future for expert consultants.

“We have a high degree of confidence and belief in the Barrhead management team and want to pursue an ambitious and aggressive strategy, but we will also be prudent to ensure that strategy is a success not just for the next six to 12 months, but for the long-term.”

He added: “The UK market has its challenges, but we want our business to be of the right size to ensure we are in a strong position when it fully recovers.”

Dobson confirmed that Barrhead’s expansion team, which includes former Cook executives Chris Mottershead, Kathryn Darbandi and Nicki Tempest-Mitchell, would be assessing locations across the UK as it looked to open at least 100 new shops.

She said: “Outside the M25 we will be looking at communities that can support new openings. We may see a few more in Scotland but the majority will be in England and Ireland with Wales also a possibility.”

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