James Villas is to sell through the trade for the first time, giving agents access to the operator’s portfolio of nearly 3,000 properties.

The villa specialist has supplied part of its portfolio to agents through its sister brand Villas4You for the past three years, but will now offer all its properties including its Luxury and Ultimate collections under the James Villas brand.

The official switch will take place on December 7, at which point all current and future bookings will be transferred to James Villas and the Villas4You brand will no longer be used.

In a statement sent to agents, James said: “After speaking to many of you we were told time and time again that your customers walked in asking for James. While it was great having Villas4You, it was a harder sell to convert your customers.

“We’re hoping this will be a beautiful new start for us all, between ourselves and you – our trusted agents – but also between you and the next walk-in looking for an amazing villa holiday.”

All commercial agreements will remain in place following the switch, and commission rates for the newly accessible properties will be based on the class of villa sold.

Sean Lowe, James Villas managing director, told Travel Weekly: “The demand for the product from our agent partners through Villas4You has grown so much that it was an obvious step to make our entire portfolio available to them.

“The James Villas brand is so well-known and respected, and as the market leader it makes perfect sense to make it available through all our distribution channels.

“Around 10% of James sales come through the trade already via Villas4You, and we believe that will grow further as they can sell James Villas-branded product to customers who already have it in mind.”

Lowe added: “The villa product is one that is suited to trade sales as it requires a degree of independence and customers like the reassurance of booking through their travel agent.

“It is a high-ticket item, and we pay commission on all elements of the package including flights and car-hire, so it is a great opportunity for agents.”

The decision to offer James Villas through the trade comes as the brand undergoes a major refresh, including a new logo, website and advert which will be shown on television and digital channels.

Lowe said that James was seeing significant growth from regional airports, after diversifying its flight programme outside its main departure point of Gatwick.