Midcounties Co-operative agents have been offered different jobs in the business as its travel shops temporarily close during the coronavirus crisis.
Some of the agents will be redeployed to its food arm, Midcounties Co-op said, from today (19 March).
“Our travel division is suffering along with the rest of the travel industry but the teams in our food business are extremely busy right now, looking after members and prioritising vulnerable and older customers,” said Alistair Rowland, chief retail officer for Midcounties Co-op.
This comes as supermarkets have urged customers to resist the temptation to stockpile food when faced with the prospect of self-isolating during the pandemic.
Rowland added: “It therefore makes sense for us, where the locations match up, to temporarily move our Co-operative Travel team members to our Co-operative Food branches, in order to safeguard their employment and support an area of the business where there is a significant demand for extra resource.”
All 57 Co-operative Travel branches across England will close temporarily. A number of these stores will be turned into “virtual” call and/or administration centres, allowing the business to look after enquiries and bookings via email, phone and social media.
Midcounties Co-op said it would reopen all travel branches “when the time is right”, backed by the “biggest media launch” in the company’s history.
Natalie Turner, head of branches for Co-operative Travel, said: “They [travel colleagues] have gone above and beyond to look after their customers during this uncertain time and now many are rolling up their sleeves to support the other divisions of Midcounties Co-operative, who desperately need those extra pairs of hands.”