North West independent World Travel Lounge has doubled its store count after acquiring three shops from a neighbouring agency.
Currently based along the Fylde Coast in Blackpool, Cleveleys and Fleetwood, the business – owned by David McDonald (above, left) – will expand into Preston, Leyland and Southport after taking over locations previously run by Book in Style.
McDonald, a member of the TTG 30 Under 30 scheme in 2016, said he was approached by Book in Style boss Andrew McKenna about a month ago over a shop deal, with McKenna looking to leave the travel industry.
“It was just too good an opportunity to pass up,” McDonald told TTG. “I mean, who would really [want to] expand during a crisis like this? But I thought hard about it and it felt like the right move.”
McDonald said it gave World Travel Lounge “a nice cluster” of stores in Lancashire, now stretching down to Merseyside. The newly acquired shops will be rebranded and staff retrained before they reopen on 14 July.
Foreign exchange departments will also be added to each branch “to give customers even more reason to come and book with us”, said McDonald.
The Preston store, in the town’s St George’s shopping centre, will become World Travel Lounge’s busiest catchment area for footfall.
“All the stores are in really strong locations and, once things pick up again on the high street, I think they’ll do really well,” added McDonald.
He said his current team – whose stores will reopen to the public on 1 July – had been seeing business bounce back, with most interest for Spain.
The expansion caps a busy month for McDonald, one in which he also appeared on BBC News to discuss how high street businesses were battling through the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of negativity and distrust from the public about the travel industry right now, so I wanted to let people know agents really do have their backs.”