Virgin Holidays is to open a new flagship store in London at the start of January – its first permanent high street location not within a department store or supermarket.
The two-storey shop, covering 18,000 sq ft, will feature ‘shops within a shop’ including a Virgin Holidays store, a Hip Hotels shop and a cruise shop.
Managing director Amanda Wills made the announcement last night at her legendary Virgin Holidays WTM party where awards are given out to the operator’s hotel, cruise and destination partners.
She also revealed that Virgin Atlantic would be flying to Vancouver from May which drew a huge cheer from the guests.
Virgin is recruiting now for the new shop, based in Kensington, West London. It will be half staffed by existing Virgin Holidays retail staff, many of whom have already requested a transfer, and half by new recruits.
Customer director Mark Anderson said he wanted to keep many of the new features under wraps until opening, but said: “It will be very experiential. We want people to come in and play with and experience travel, not just be sold it. There will be elements from our concession stores that work well, plus some really innovative, experiential new concepts.”
Anderson added: “We had a temporary pop up store in Dorking last January but this is our first permanent shop that’s on the high street.”
Other retail brands like Flight Centre, Trailfinders and Kuoni already operate shops in Kensington, but Anderson said: “There is more than enough business in that area for all of us. This is great news for the industry that we’re investing in and believing in the high street.
“Our experience is that our customers like to interact with the Virgin Holidays brand right from the start of their holiday experience and that includes choosing and booking.”