Leading a national nursery operation, pharmacy and funeral group would keep anyone busy.
Add to this a whole travel division, as well as the role of Abta chair – not to mention having taken on 200 former Freedom agents in recent months – and it’s fair to say Midcounties Co-operative’s specialist business retail chief Alistair Rowland has had his hands full of late.
Speaking to TTG last week, Rowland was crystal clear on what needs to happen for the travel industry to weather the extreme pressure it is currently under, and what his company is doing to support its own employees and members.
On top of its own 58 high street travel agencies, Midcounties also comprises the Co-op Travel Consortium, which has 170 members, and The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel, a network of 170 independent, homeworking travel agents (PTAs).
Midcounties memorably acquired the vast majority of Freedom’s consortium agents after Thomas Cook collapsed last September – businesses that, having just picked themselves back up after that crisis, now find themselves in the grip of another.
Many of the homeworkers in Freedom joined Midcounties consortium members too.
Thankfully, the measures for self-employed people announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in recent days (centred around the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which will pay a grant of 80% of average monthly profits over the past three years, up to £2,500 per month) will help a large proportion of self-employed travel professionals.
But there are some who will fall through the gaps, and for those who do qualify there’s the fact the money won’t arrive until “early June”.