Thomas Cook has revealed plans for a Discovery store in Belfast before the end of this year.
The announcement comes as the company opens the first of 25 new Discovery stores at Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in London.
The Westfield Stratfield City store is already trading but will be officially opened by Thomas Cook UK managing director Chris Mottershead and director or retail and customer experience Kathryn Darbandi this Wednesday.
The next Discovery store will be in Victoria Square in Belfast. A further two are also due to open at other “prime locations” before the end of the year.
The Discovey stores, previously known as concept stores, operate at shopping centres nationwide and offer free Wi-Fi, online appointment bookings, video and virtual reality technology.
They follow the announcement in October by Thomas Cook that it was dividing its shops into two categories – Discovery and Neighbourhood stores – following a review of all its shops across the UK.
The company said the Westfield Stratford City Discovery store represents its “most innovative” shop to date. It is the first new concept store to open since it opened in the Bluewater shopping centre in 2014.
The shop has a 16-strong team, including store Peter Ryan and one of the company’s longest-serving employees George Duncan, who has worked for Thomas Cook for 46 years and a new apprentice at the start of her travel career.
The staff spent two days abroad prior to the shop opening to increase their knowledge of the operator’s own-brand hotels.
Darbandi said: “The opening of our Westfield Stratford City Discovery store marks an important milestone in our ambition to ensure all of our shops meet the changing needs of customers today. We understand how much people value a well-earned holiday but equally how time pressured they can be when it comes to finding and booking one.
“Alongside our trusted staff, who we know play an important role when choosing the right holiday, we hope that our newly designed Discovery stores will inspire and engage customers as well as cater to individual researching and booking preferences.”