The boss of Hays Travel North West says the group is on course to open its 40th store early next year and grow its network to more than 50 shops throughout 2019.
Managing director Don Bircham told TTG the investment, which he says is funded entirely through profit, was somewhere in the region of £75,000 per new Hays North West branch.
However, the group has also been simultaneously refitting its original, existing branches to bring them up to the same standard, each representing a similar outlay.
Bircham said Hays North West currently had 32 branches trading, with Rochdale due to open this week. “We’ll open Runcorn, Oldham and Ashton before Christmas too,” he said. “The Runcorn branch is going to be really nice, it’s a corner location.”
Subject to shop fitting, Hays North West’s proposed new Formby, Northwich, Macclesfield, Bury and Cheadle stores will open “very early in the New Year” said Bircham. “That takes us to 40,” he said.
“It’s all looking promising for the end of January. We had hoped to have them all ready for [January] peaks but there are always so many things out of our hands like legal matters and recruitment, which is always a challenge. We’re pretty happy with how it’s gone.”
Bircham said Hays North West was “nearly there” with the refit of its original 14 branches. “There’s only two left in the old style,” he said. “We’ve been doing that alongside the expansion. It’s been an expensive time for us.
“All 40 will feature the same design. We had initially planned to give the original ones a bit of sparkle. In reality. I didn’t think it was fair on the people working in those branches so in the end we decided to do all the old ones up to the new standard.
“The new ones are costing us around £75,000 a go, and the refits are around that kind of level as well. And it’s all funded through profit. We’re not borrowing funds for this this.”
Bircham said the new stores would, across full-time and part-time roles, average out at around five new members of staff per shop, taking Hays North West’s total staff base to around 220.
He set up agency chain Just Go Travel in 2000. Between 2006 and 2014, it operated as a Tui franchisee before John Hays took a 40% stake in the company whereby it was rebranded Hays Travel North West.
“The ultimate goal is 50 - I think that’s about what the north west can take,” said Bircham. “If we can get to 40 by February, there’s no reason to doubt we can get to 50 in the 12 months after that.”