By Juliet Dennis and Ben Ireland
Kuoni is to extend its network to 65 branded stores nationwide and is looking to boost the number of third-party tour operators sold through its network.
The luxury specialist has revealed plans to open five new John Lewis concessions, including one in Oxford in October and one in Westfield London next year.
Kuoni is also in the final stages of discussions to partner with Freedom Travel Group member Full Circle Travel, in Oxfordshire, and Pure Destinations, in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.
The Sutton Coldfield store will be Pure Destinations’ second Kuoni partner store, after its Edgbaston shop joined in 2015. It is slated to launch in April.
Founder and managing director Lakh Hayer said Kuoni sales in the Edgbaston store rose 96% in January compared with last year.
“The [Sutton Coldfield] shop is in quite an affluent area, so a good target area for Kuoni. We expect a similar trade to Edgbaston,” he said.
Niall Douglas, managing director at Full Circle Travel, said: “We were planning on moving to a bigger premises and I wanted to make as big a splash as possible. Having the brand security of Kuoni will stand us in good stead. It is one of the top four most-recognised travel brands and will help drive business.”
When the seven new sites open, Kuoni will have 65 branded stores, of which 52 will be its own shops.
The operator has expanded its network from just two nine years ago after sales through high-street multiples fell.
Managing director Derek Jones said it was unlikely Kuoni would open more of its own stores.
The operator is considering increasing the number of partner operators sold through its shops and boosting its proportion of third-party sales from 10% to 20%.
In the last two years it has begun selling Ski Independence, Wellbeing Escapes, Neilson’s Beachclubs and luxury cruise lines through its own stores. Previously only Kuoni or sister operators such as Kirker were sold through the shops.
Jones said brands were approaching Kuoni but only those that fitted its luxury consumer demographic and complemented what it already offered would be considered.
“We could sell other brands, such as those in Travelopia. There is a lot we could consider in terms of complementary products. It’s about offering consumers a full service.”
The group has also unveiled plans to develop more agent experts in areas such as diving and golf. It already has LGBT experts and family specialists. .
At a glance
2008: First two Kuoni stores in Kensington and Manchester open.
2011: World Market Travel in Bath becomes first independent agent to sign up as a Kuoni partner store.
2012: Kuoni signs partnership deal with John Lewis to develop travel agencies in the high-street retailer’s department stores.
2016: Kuoni opens nine new standalone stores in Bromley, Cheadle, Chelmsford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Harrogate, Lakeside, Leeds and St Albans.
2017: Kuoni announces five new John Lewis concessions and is in final talks with two new partner stores.
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