Hays Travel has taken a 40% stake in northwest-based 14-branch miniple Just Go.


Owner Don Bircham will retain a 60% shareholding, but all 14 shops in north Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire will be rebranded ‘Hays Travel with Just Go’ from October. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was privately funded by Hays.


Just Go was a Hays Travel Independence Group member before becoming a First Choice franchise in 2006 as part of an agreement that is about to expire.


Bircham said he would be “daft not to” take this opportunity to review the business but believes Hays and Just Go will see mutual benefits.


Hays was one of six companies to take an interest in Just Go, but Bircham said Hays was always a frontrunner.


“I liked the infrastructure offered by Hays and there was a good fit between the businesses,” he said.


“First we’ll look to consolidate and bed-in and then we’ll look at opportunities to expand. It’s no secret that both John [Hays, managing director of Hays Travel] and I are very ambitious people, keen to grow the business.”


Just Go has about 100 staff and turns over more than £36 million.


Hays said three existing Hays stores in the region could become part of the partnership, but nothing has been agreed.


He added: “The focus is that the transition of the businesses goes well. We have been trading very strongly and I have always been an advocate of high street travel agents when a lot of people thought they were doomed. My actions in the past year with [the acquisition of] Bath Travel and now Just Go is an indication of my confidence.”


Hays Travel also completed a deal for the staff, bookings and customer base of Jesmond Travel in Newcastle last week.