Tui Travel is to phase out its dual-brand high street strategy and establish Thomson as its lead retail name.
The travel giant has begun an £8 million rebranding of its UK shop network to ‘Thomson featuring First Choice’, in a project expected to take two years and cost £8 million.
Thomson colours are already replacing those of First Choice in the Exeter, Devon and Cornwall region, where many stores are former Bakers Dolphin shops and managers have been calling for a bigger Thomson presence. New shop fascias are to be added shortly.
The rebranding will also see the distinctive pink and turquoise First Choice uniform phased out.
Thomson and First Choice have operated side by side since the 2007 merger of Tui UK and First Choice put the retailer in control of more than 700 shops nationwide.
The move to combine them follows the First Choice tour operation’s shift to all-inclusive only, which Tui admits left some shoppers confused about what the brand’s shops sold. The First Choice strapline on the new shopfronts will say “The Home Of All Inclusive”.
Announcing the move at its annual retail conference in Portugal, Tui said the change would give First Choice three times the UK high street presence it currently enjoys.
The new store concept has been devised by retail director Kathryn Ward and distribution director Nick Longman, who was promoted to online director for the mainstream sector in a management shake-up in October 2011.
Longman said: “We have two strong, distinctive brands, and have a strong presence across the country. We want to make the biggest, clearest impact we can, for our customers. Thomson is a hugely recognised brand and will therefore take the lead on all shops, but First Choice will also feature because it has a clear position and strong appeal in its own right.
“There is certainly room for both brands, and customers will benefit from the breadth and clarity of what we have to offer. To ensure we remain market leaders on the high street we need to give our customers unrivalled access to the best choice of our wide range of products. That’s why we are bringing both our market-leading brands to all of the towns we operate in.”
The rebranding is due to be completed by October 2013.
Pictures: In-store changes
How the shopfronts will look
The colour scheme
Brand-focused ‘hero’ brochure racking