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Travel industry news

08 May 2019

BY James Chapple

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Hays Travel North West on track for 40th store

Hays Travel North West expects to open its 37th and 38th stores next month and remains confident of hitting the 40-branch mark this year.

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"As well as growing our network, we also grew business significantly. January was very encouraging, but then February came and everything just slowed down."

The business has expanded rapidly in recent years, most notably over the new year when it surged from 32 stores to its current 36.


Managing director Don Bircham confirmed to TTG this week Hays North West’s new Oldham and Northwich stores would open in June.


After a “strong start” to the year, fuelled by the business’s turn-of-year expansion drive, Bircham said a warm, late Easter, quickly followed by the chill from Storm Hannah, had kept punters off the high street.


However, Bircham stressed while he wasn’t pulling the handbrake on his plans to expand to
50 stores, he was taking the same precautions as other businesses.


“It was a strong start to the year,” he said. “As well as growing our network, we also grew business significantly. January was very encouraging, but then February came and everything
just slowed down.


“I’m cautiously optimistic though. We’ve taken time to reflect before we look at the next phase of our expansion.”


While Hays North West is currently targeting Lancashire, it maintains a live “wishlist” for new locations. “We have a clear vision to get to 50 [stores],” said Bircham.


Each fit-out costs the business between £60,000 and £70,000, said Bircham, who added the entire Hays North West store network, except one shop, had been refurbished over the past two years, representing upwards of two million pounds of investment. “We’re delighted we did that when the sun was shining,” said Bircham.


Staffing, meanwhile, has increased to 212, each store typically employing four to six staff, with around 40% of staff now part-time.


Bircham set up the business as Just Go Travel in 2000. Between 2006 and 2014, it operated as a Tui franchisee before John Hays took a 40% stake, after which the business became Hays Travel North West. “The model just works,” said Bircham. “John continues to expand in his territories, and we’ll do the same in ours.”

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