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NEWS 1


YOU NEED TO KNOW


UK RETAIL


What the BRC and CBI say about the UK high street


BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM (third-quarter figures) l Number of hours worked in retail down a record 4.2%


l Number of full-time hours worked down 4.5%; part-time down 3.7%


l Total number of employees down 3%; full-time staff falling faster than part-time


l Non-food sales fell 1.5% but store numbers were up 2.4%


John Hays: ‘We’ve had a great year this year’


Hays Travel expects to top £1bn in bookings in 2018


Lee Hayhurst


Hays Travel Independence Group Conference, Marbella


Hays Travel says it is on course to achieve a significant landmark in 2018 by booking more than £1 billion worth of holidays in a financial year.


The UK’s largest independent


travel agent confidently forecast it will surpass the figure as it prepares to report a total transaction value (TTV) of more than £900 million for the 12 months to October 31, 2017. Managing director John Hays said


he “expects to top” the £1 billion mark next year, 16 years after Hays reached £100 million – a landmark that had taken 20 years to achieve. Hays said that while the billion-


pound figure was “just a number”, it would be a notable achievement and testament to the resilience of travel retail on the high street. “We will definitely have a


celebration,” he said. “We’ve had a great year this year. The [audited] numbers won’t be out until February, but they will be good.” Last year, for the 12 months to


October 31, 2016, Hays recorded a TTV of £835 million, turnover of £332 million and profit after tax of just under £6 million. Hays’ upbeat assessment of


travel’s prospects on the high street came as the British Retail Consortium and CBI presented a much gloomier outlook for retail in general excluding travel (see box). However, Hays said travel was bucking the trend and he was continuing to seek opportunities


4 travelweekly.co.uk 2 November 2017


“The [audited] numbers won’t be out until February but they will be good”


to grow. He said availability of quality staff was the key challenge. Hays now employs more than


1,000 retail staff, having added more than 100 this year. Hays Travel is expanding south


from its northeast heartland into Yorkshire, across the south – where it took over 60-shop Bath Travel in 2013 – and into regions such as Norfolk, where it has signed a lease for a shop in Cromer. Northwest partner Just Go is due


to add four stores by December 31, taking the joint venture’s total to 27, up from 12 three years ago.


l “Structural change is gathering steam as retailers adapt to an environment with a much lower dependency on labour,” said Rachel Lund, BRC head of retail insights and analytics


CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY l 50% of retailers suffered declining sales in October; 15% reported an increase


l The rounded net difference of -36% was the lowest since the last recession in March 2009


Speaking at the Hays Travel Independence Group Conference this week, Hays said providing personal service and independent advice and having strong supplier relationships were vital. “We work closely with all our suppliers and they reward us for the sales we deliver,” he said. IG agent Admiral Travel’s


Workington and Altrincham stores have “smashed their best-ever years by a country mile” and the agency is looking to expand further after opening a third shop in Cockermouth in May. Owner Andy Nelson said:


“Customers want someone to find the right holiday for them, whether it be an in-house brand or alternative supplier, and they want


it competitively priced.” › Hays IG Conference, page 14


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