Kathryn Ward, director of retail for Tui UK


Before announcing the new rebrand for Thomson and First Choice’s retail shops I was apprehensive as to what the response from our staff would be.


I was very confident with the decision but the most important thing to me was that our managers felt the same way too.


The announcement was made, at our retail conference, to rapturous applause, however, I was interested to see what the reaction would be once the information had filtered down and sunk in.


Three weeks later, having had further feedback from staff through my blog and generally catching up with people, I am pleased to say that the response has been, on the whole, positive.


For those teams who have had their shops rebranded and refitted since conference it is a very exciting time. Photos are now flying around as managers show off their new shops with pride.


Understandably shop staff, who work in towns where there is one First Choice and one Thomson shop, are concerned but we’ve managed to talk through these worries with them.


Ultimately this is a two year project and decisions on shops will be made on a case by case basis. After all we have plenty of examples of shops running successfully in close proximity to one another.


Our teams are understandably anxious to know what our timelines are so we will work hard to keep everyone informed and up to date.


Earlier this year the decision was made to reposition First Choice away from Thomson, by launching it as the UK’s first exclusively all-inclusive tour operator.


This decision was made so that we could finally drive some real brand differentiation between the two. By giving each brand clear strategy and focus, it now makes it much easier to talk about them both separately and together.


Since the repositioning of First Choice, a number of our shop staff felt concerned that customers would start to think that First Choice shops only sell all inclusive holidays and therefore look elsewhere for non all inclusive holidays.


As a result many of our staff have said that they feel relieved about the decision to rebrand the shops. From the research that we have done, we feel certain that this is the right move for the company to make.


The travel industry is always having to change direction and in order to keep up to date with the industry we need to adapt to ensure that our retail shops are relevant.


In fact, we’ve been through so much change in the past that we all know that it’s time for us to take the next step of our journey.


We have two fantastic brands and now is exactly the right time to bring them together on the high street. I really think this will make us even stronger and will drive more customers through our doors.


I am so pleased to see that so many of our staff are behind us on this exciting innovation, and for those who still have concerns I’m just going to have to ask you all to trust me on this one.