Barrhead Travel will open two new shops in England this month, in Halifax and Plymouth.
Both retail locations are currently undergoing refits and were part of the Scottish agency chain’s pre-Covid plan for 100 new stores around the UK.
The agency’s president, Jacqueline Dobson, said that plan been “put on ice” due to the pandemic – but explained she had already signed leases on the Halifax and Plymouth branches and employed staff for them when Covid took hold.
“We had opened 15 before the pandemic. This will take us up to 17 and we will continue to open more as demand increases,” said Dobson.
“The high street is still our future and when it does come back, we believe it will come back with a bang.”
Barrhead now has 52 wholly-owned stores and 36 managed partner stores in its network.
Speaking at an event to welcome a delegation from US parent company Internova to the UK, she said the team at Barrhead had done “everything” to cut costs during the pandemic, such as negotiating with landlords and making use of the government’s staff retention scheme.
It had also secured extra revenue through NHS Scotland contracts up until March this year.
Dobson revealed that, with furlough about to end, Barrhead was embarking on new contracts with the NHS to “safeguard jobs and bring in a bit of revenue”.
“We’re helping with Test and Protect [Scotland’s contact tracing service], so anybody with Covid may get a call from a member of our team, and also with the vaccination helpline.”
Dobson said taking on the contracts “allows our staff to be fully-paid and also gives them a purpose”, adding: “It’s about preserving as many jobs as we can.”