Apprentices have been credited with helping to attract younger customers at the former Bath Travel branches.

John Hays, managing director of Hays Travel, said he had seen a “notable increase” in the number of 35 to 55-year-olds coming through the doors since acquiring the chain in 2013.

In the last three years, Hays has introduced an apprenticeship scheme, and rebranded and refurbished all 60 former Bath Travel shops.

“The age profile had been a problem for some time,” Hays said. “So we knew we needed to work hard to bring in a new audience and a younger demographic – it was one of our main aims.”

During the refurbishment, Bath Travel’s notorious red carpets and dark wood interiors were ripped out and replaced with “brighter, fresher Hays colours”.

“Gratifyingly, since the rebrand we have seen a notable increase in the number of younger clients,” Hays said.

“Combined with our apprentices, we’re breathing new life into these shops by bringing in new customers,” he added. “Young people buy from young people.”

The agency has 202 apprentices, 84 of which are based in the southern region. Hays said he expects to recruit at least 100 more apprentices this year.

Northeast-based Hays Travel, which runs 131 shops, has recently moved into Yorkshire and plans to open 10 more shops, though Hays wouldn’t reveal where these would be.

He admitted he was looking at acquisitions and new stores, and had his eyes open for possible miniples to acquire.