South Wales travel agency chain Tailor Made Travel is to open six shops to the public from Monday, June 1.
Tailor Made is thought to be the first miniple to allow customers inside its shops since the start of lockdown in March.
The chain has limited staff numbers to a maximum of three in each branch this week, using a closed-door policy and adhering to strict safety and hygiene measures.
Its Merthyr Tydfil, Blackwood and Caerphilly stores opened on Tuesday this week, shops in Penarth and Whitchurch (Cardiff) reopen today, and the Bridgend branch reopens on Thursday, all under a locked-door policy.
New safety measures include screens at desks, yellow hazard tape on the floor to mark where customers must sit, and only using up to two desks per branch while a third agent greets clients at the door to meet social distancing guidelines.
Clients will not be allowed to touch brochure racks and all equipment will be regularly cleaned, with hand sanitiser available and optional face masks for staff. New signage will clearly state the new working practices.
Chief executive Simon Morgan said: “We are doing this in order to generate public interest and stimulate staff morale and encourage a return to normal working practices.
“It seems logical to me to move people working at home into the shops so that we are ready to trade and used to following tried and tested procedures that we can roll them out to other stores quickly.”
Morgan said that, under Welsh Assembly guidelines, businesses in the transportation industry in Wales were allowed to trade, despite a stricter lockdown than in England remaining in place until at least May 28.
He said: “We didn’t have to close the stores [at the start of the lockdown] but because the national government was advising people to stay at home it would not have been appropriate to argue against the government. I have taken the view we can do this, provided my staff are kept safe.”
Only the 20 staff currently working from home as part of the agency’s crisis team are to move back into stores, while the remaining 75 agents will remain in furlough for the time being.
Morgan was confident of sufficient pent-up demand to justify the move.
“We will see increased revenues as a result of opening our stores,” he said. “Once we are seen to be on the high street, our competitors will start to consider doing the same. The more demand will grow and that will bring revenue.”
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