Travel Designers will close its high street store next year as boss Nick Harding-McKay “downscales” his business in response to health concerns.
The company, named London’s top agency and the UK’s best for weddings and honeymoons at the TTG Top 50 awards in April, will shut its Balham shop on 31 March when the lease on the property expires.
Harding-McKay said the decision came after he was advised to cut his workload following his diagnosis earlier this year of “a quite serious heart condition”.
Harding-McKay described the move as “the hardest of my career” and praised his team for their “absolutely wonderful support” after breaking the news to them last week.
James Whitaker-Sheppard has since left the business, with fellow team member Carol Stewart also set to depart.
Harding-McKay revealed Travel Designers, which will mark its 20th anniversary next year, will continue under a new guise and strapline – “The Boutique Travel Company”.
“This is definitely not a financial failure – far from it,” he told TTG. “We’re on track for our second-best year ever. It is purely down to my health and the need to focus on looking after myself.
“I wasn’t ready just to sell up or close the business and throw away 20 years’ hard work. Our new form is about a ‘less is more approach’ and allows us to continue giving top service without the overheads of a retail unit.”
Harding-McKay and his remaining team – Kelly Hamstead and Beverley Kerr – will work from home after the store closure on an appointment basis.
They will continue to attend travel shows and run marketing campaigns across Travel Designers’ social media and website. The agency will also remain a member of the Global Travel Group.
“We are expecting a bit of an impact on business from not having the store, but we’re really hopeful of making a success of things,” Harding-McKay added.
“It’s not the end of Travel Designers, no way. We will definitely still be delivering for our customers and suppliers.”