Barrhead Travel plans to open 20 new stores by the end of March next year and has recruited two more former Thomas Cook senior managers as part of its expansion drive.

President Jacqueline Dobson said the agency had identified 15 locations already and recruited 75 new staff for the branches, largely made up of former Thomas Cook employees.

The number of staff will grow to 96 by the end of the year, Dobson said.

In October, Barrhead named seven locations where it would open new shops, with exact premises yet to be confirmed.

These will be in in Liverpool, Widnes, Wallasey, Burnley, Isle of Wight, Northwich and Warrington and open ahead of the peak trading season in January.

Speaking to Travel Weekly at Barrhead’s Business Partner Conference at Trump Turnberry hotel last week, Dobson said two of the seven would be open and trading within the next two weeks.


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It follows plans announced by Barrhead last month to grow its shop network by 100 branches following the announcement that Hays Travel had acquired the leases for the entire Thomas Cook retail estate.

Barrhead has recruited two more former Thomas Cook senior managers, following the appointments of Chris Mottershead, Kathryn Darbandi and Nicki Tempest-Mitchell who joined in October to focus solely on expanding the agency’s retail network across the UK.

Ex-Thomas Cook learning development head Phil Hudson has been appointed head of people development and culture and will report into Tempest-Mitchell.

Former Thomas Cook regional sales manager Catherine Finlan has also joined the expansion team and been appointed head of sales north.

They both joined Barrhead in October.

Dobson said: “We believe in bricks and mortar and that’s definitely part of our strategy moving forward.”

But she added: “It’s not about size, it’s about the offering, the service and expertise of our staff, so that’s our aspiration.”

Asked about Hays Travel’s swoop for Thomas Cook’s entire retail estate, Dobson said: “It’s great for the industry, great for the high street and for all those staff that have been re-employed.

Barrhead’s annual revenue for 2018 grew 7% to £318 million. This followed a record sales fortnight in January this year with revenue up 10% on 2017.

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