St Andrews Travel has been forced to increase its wages in the last year after losing 10 staff to Holiday Hypermarkets in Salford and Bolton.
The move has pushed the annual wage bill up by a further £72,000 as the company tries to compete with the higher salaries paid out by the out-of-town superstores. There are now 17 rival agents in the Bolton area competing for business.
Managing director Andrew Dickson said: "They have taken our 16-year-old trainee with six months experience, are paying her £7,500 a year, and are letting her sell holidays on the front desk. We don't pay that kind of money until trainees have completed a two-year apprenticeship.
"We pay them £60 a week, in line with the Travel Training Company scheme, and wouldn't allow someone with just six months' experience onto the front desk."
Dickson is also annoyed at the loss of a senior manager, lured away by an extra £10,000 a year.
"Staff conditions at St Andrews Travel are very good,"he added. "Pay is above the miniples' average and there is an end-of-year bonus based on profits. Agents are well trained, guaranteed an educational each year and we take them out for a staff meal every month. It is just the money they are going for.
"We did have a surplus of staff as we recruited for a 15%-20% increase in sales based on last year's results and instead bookings are down 2%. Losing the staff doesn't matter as much, but we would like to control who goes."
What makes Dickson even more angry is the First Choice-backed Hypermarkets have been contacting his staff during work hours and offering them jobs.
"I had to ring them up in the end and tell them to stop talking to our staff in our time when there are paying customers waiting."
Dickson said other agents in the Bolton area hadn't been affected by the Holiday Hypermarkets, which he believes is due to the high quality of the staff at St Andrews Travel.
Dickson says many consultants like the working style at the hypermarkets where videos are shown during slack periods. But the hypermarkets are not to everyone's taste. Dickson said one Holiday Hypermarkets consultant has now joined St Andrews Travel because shedidn't like the superstore.
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