Southampton and Bristol among cities considered for Barrhead expansion

Southampton and Bristol among cities considered for Barrhead expansion

Barrhead Travel chairman Bill Munro has been scouting for new shops in Bristol and Southampton in the next stage of its expansion into England.

The 56-strong agency chain opened a shop in Newcastle last October and Munro has previously cited Manchester and Leeds as key targets. A move to the south coast would see Barrhead go head-to-head with the likes of Hays Travel.

Munro said the plans were part of Barrhead’s ambitions to have 1,000 agents working across the UK. The company currently employs 850 people.

The hunt for suitable premises comes just a month after Travel Weekly revealed that Barrhead would consider external investment to help grow its business in England.

While he wouldn’t reveal exactly how many shops he’d like to open, chief executive Sharon Munro said she could “absolutely” see Barrhead having a similar presence in England to that in Scotland over time.

Bill Munro said: “We’re looking at everywhere in England – the length and breadth – and we’ll obviously go for the low‑hanging fruit first. I’ve been down in Bristol and Southampton; we’re looking at Leeds; you name it – all over.

“We’re looking to open a large number of shops and in areas where we can recruit and retrain staff into our way of working. We will buy and build without a doubt – both existing smaller travel agencies and tour operators, as well as new premises.”

Munro stressed that the business is “not for sale”.

“If someone came along wishing to speed growth plans by investing in the business then we would probably welcome them,” he said. 

“But we’ve got plenty of money and profits in the business; 2015 was the most profitable year yet.”

Barrhead will release its latest accounts in the coming weeks and Munro said he believed the company’s strong performance is “mainly down to reaching critical mass” and strong management.

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