The Midcounties Co-operative Travel is to create luxury stores in partnership with long-haul brands Gold Medal and Travel 2.

It will be the first time the group has teamed up with the dnata-owned trade-only operators to rebrand existing stores in affluent areas into luxury holiday specialist branches.

Stores in Leamington Spa, Solihull and Worcester have been earmarked, with plans to have Gold Medal’s Pure Luxury branding taking over shop windows along with weekly offers from the operator.

The luxury outlets will feature Gold Medal and Travel 2-dedicated brochure racks and walls.  Full‑shop refurbishments, with new furniture, lighting and decor,  are also in the pipeline.

Eventually, all Midcounties shops will feature some form of branded rack and overbranded brochures.

Gold Medal and Travel 2 sales already account for more than 20% of the group’s long-haul business. The new partnership is expected to boost this to 25% in the first year.

Andy Freeth (pictured), dnata UK’s B2B managing director, said this was the first time the operators had formed a branding partnership with an agency chain at this level.

“This is a big step forward in our relationship and shows the commitment from both sides,” he said. “We are happy to invest in Midcounties’ business. Its commitment to showing our products in a consistent way across its network will continue 
its growth curve.

“We have identified a handful of shops that would benefit from our Pure Luxury brand in their windows because of the affluent client base in those areas.”

Freeth emphasised there was no appetite to promote Gold Medal and Travel 2 to consumers and said he hoped Pure Luxury would entice customers into the shops. He said the investment in the partnership would run into “tens of thousands”.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly at the Institute of Travel & Tourism Conference last week, Julie Kendrick, Midcounties’ head of commercial and marketing, said:

“Gold Medal and Travel 2 are very proactive in helping Midcounties grow our long-haul sales. The investment and support into marketing has been consistent. Our retail stores will welcome the move and already see [the brands] as perfect partners.”

Midcounties has already overbranded a number of brochures with Gold Medal – a move that Kendrick said had been “extremely successful” for Florida sales.

Freeth said he would be happy to consider similar relationships with other agencies.