Tui Travel will open more Thomson and First Choice shops in the north and the Midlands as it targets 80% controlled distribution, but other regions will see shop closures.
Speaking to Travel Weekly in an exclusive interview, Tui Travel UK distribution director Nick Longman said two more branches would open in Scotland in the next few weeks and many other gaps in the portfolio had been identified.
“We said that we would control 80% of our sales, but within that average there are parts of the country at 90% and others at only 65%,” he said.
“So we want to get a minimum level of control everywhere.”
Longman said the company assessed levels of broadband availability and internet usage across the country, and would open shops to compensate where both were poor.
In some cases, he said shops were more cost-effective than the web.
Longman added that Tui would open shops in towns where it had previously closed them down, and said coveted units within shopping centres had started to become available as other retailers, such as MFI, Woolworths and Birthdays, closed.
However, more shops will close during the coming years than will open.
“We might open 50 but close 70,” he said. “There will be some areas where we’ve got too many shops or where the internet has really caught on fast.”
Longman said Tui would also be taking on shorter leases. “Half of our leases come up in the next five years.
“Generally, instead of 15 or 10-year leases with a 10 or seven-year break, we’ll be going for five or three-year leases with a three or one-year break.”
Tui also plans to step up training and aims to have an agent in every shop who has visited the main destinations.
It is also set to trial an incentive scheme for customers on holiday to book their next trip, with the sale being attributed back to the original agent.