Tui jobs vows as 166 shops to shut Ben Ireland

Tui pledged to protect as many retail jobs as possible as it announced plans to close 166 travel agencies. The travel giant, whose high

street presence is second only to Hays Travel, said it will create a new homeworking sales and service team staffed by 70% of the 900 staff affected by the closures. Talks with the other 30% are

ongoing, with some to be redeployed across the 350 remaining branches, while overseas third-party contact centres will be closed. Tui said the stores to close would

be selected after consideration of local market data, consumer trends

and predictions of the future of travel selling. The company has yet to confirm the possible locations. The decision follows a review

of UK customer booking behaviour and an announcement by the wider Tui Group in May that it would cut costs by 30% globally, with about 8,000 roles impacted. Andrew Flintham, managing

director of Tui UK and Ireland, said: “We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it’s in a high street store, over the telephone or online. “It is therefore imperative we

make these difficult cost decisions and look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty.” He noted that 70% of Tui’s

Tui plans to close 166 stores

continue to offer the personalised service our customers value,” he said. Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive

of The Advantage Travel Partnership, said Tui’s plan could be of long-term benefit to independent agencies, with “less competition”. But she warned the imminent loss of Tui from many high streets was “a negative”, saying: “The less brand-name retailers we have creates another issue.” Lo Bue-Said said she did not

UK bookings are online and that Covid-19 had “only accelerated this change in purchasing habits”. “We have world-class travel

advisors at Tui, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and

expect Advantage’s members to follow suit by reducing their retail presence, but said many were “complementing” high street operations with an out-of- hours service from home. Paul Harrison, co-founder of

Not Just Travel, said Tui’s decision “reinforces the rise of the homeworker”.

Redundancies ‘won’t impact Hays footprint’

Ben Ireland

Hays Travel says a consultation with 878 staff about potential redundancies will not affect the number of shops in its network. Owners John and Irene Hays said

they will leave an “open door” for workers, who have “done nothing wrong”, to return when demand for holidays picks up after the pandemic. The UK’s largest independent

agency, which has about 650 branches having acquired the leases of the former Thomas Cook retail estate

4 6 AUGUST 2020

last year, started consulting with 344 trainee travel consultants who have not completed training and 534 foreign exchange staff this week. The Hays said they had “made

every possible effort” to protect their 4,500-strong workforce. They stressed experienced agents,

apprentices and head office staff are not affected by the consultation. Speaking to Travel Weekly, John

Hays said foreign exchange staff were at risk because “less people are travelling” and experienced agents were trained to deal with currency.

He also said shop closures were

“not part of this consultation” and that plans to open a Glasgow office to service Hays Travel’s in-house tour operator were still in the pipeline. The consultation is the first time

in Hays Travel’s 40-year history that more than 10 redundancies have been made at once. The Hays also defended a June

recruitment drive, saying they had been able to “see a way through” the pandemic without losing staff prior to the government’s abrupt change in advice on travel to Spain.

Irene and John Hays say retaining all 4,500 staff is ‘no longer sustainable’

Irene Hays said the redundancies

were a “tragedy”, adding: “When they opened the air bridges [July 11], there was a surprising number of people wanting to go on holiday. We saw a sense of progression before it got to that Saturday [July 25].” She noted bookings were

“nowhere near our targets, or in comparison to last year”, but said they were “steadily improving”. But in a statement, the Hays said that since the Spain advice, retaining

all staff was “no longer sustainable”. i Get Social, page 22

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