Hays Travel is to open nine stores over the next three months, taking its total high street presence up to 180 branches.
The independent agency chain will open four stores before the year is out including a new shop in Sunderland city centre, which will also house Hays’ new headquarters from May 2019.
Other new shops will be opening in the Yorkshire towns of Selby and Beverley, as well as Northwich in Cheshire before the new year.
Hays also has plans for another five shops early in 2019, including three more Yorkshire locations (Leeds city centre, Pontefract and Huddersfield) as well as stores in Plymouth and King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
Head of retail Paula Barrett told TTG: “It’s a lot of expansion. We always have our eyes open to opportunities – we have earmarked other towns but we have to find the right premises.”
Hays has been targeting Yorkshire as a region for expansion and recently opened a shop in Hull.
Each of the nine new stores will be staffed by a team of five to six agents, and Barrett said they would “follow the same template” as Hays’ existing shops.
The four stores opening before Christmas will have their own Facebook pages to promote special offers. They will also offer Hays’ new finance scheme for customers, allowing them to spread the cost of their holiday across monthly payments, with the final balance due six weeks before departure.
“2018 has been a fantastic year for us – reaching the £1 billion turnover mark, securing a new head office premises and continuing our retail expansion across the UK,” added Barrett.
“We have opened 14 new shops this year and we have no plans to stop in 2019.”
Hays also held its biggest-ever retail conference in Portugal this week, with 260 attendees including managers from all of Hays’ stores, as well as head office staff and suppliers.
“The conference gives us a chance to reflect on the year and celebrate successes, as well as focusing on the following year,” added Barrett. “It’s very interactive, with our managers giving their opinions, and there are matchmaking sessions where suppliers meet the managers.”
Hays is also focusing on its homeworking division, with plans to recruit 200 more homeworkers this financial year.
The company plans to increase its homeworker marketing and organise regular training dates.