Voyages-sncf’s UK office in Maidstone will close at the end of the year, it has been announced.
UK head of trade sales Paul Lacey confirmed to TTG that 11 roles, including his own, had been placed under consultation.
He stressed, however, the move would have “minimal” impact on the group’s trade partners, with new trade-facing platforms and processes already in development.
Lacey, who has been with the company for eight years, explained French state rail operator SNCF had, after a period of consultation, decided to bring its pan-European operations in-house.
A further five SNCF bases on the continent will also shut, with these offshoots relocating to the operator’s Paris HQ.
Lacey added SNCF’s relations with its key travel trade partners in the UK would be handed over to a new key account manager. A new trade-facing website and helpdesk will launch in the New Year.
“It’s part of a strategic decision to create greater consistency for travel agents across Europe,” said Lacey. “It means the various Voyages-sncf bases in Europe will close, effective from December 31.
“From our trade partners’ perspective, if you are one of our key partners, very little will change. There will be minimal effect on our other partners who only occasionally sell rail. And they will continue to have access to SNCF content through a new trade website.”
Sales of certain third-party rail product in other European destinations, such as Deutsche Bahn services in Germany and Renfe rail links in Spain, ceased at the start of the month.
Core Eurostar, high speed and inter city SNCF, and cross-border products remain available to the trade.
Lacey said SNCF’s B2B business had been “under review” across Europe for some time and the decision came following considerable “analysis and consideration”.
“The company has supported staff throughout this process to help them find alternative employment,” said Lacey, adding staff had been offered roles with SNCF in Europe and other markets.