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Tui to close 166 high street stores

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Tui has confirmed it will close 166 high street stores in the UK and Ireland as it looks to create a homeworking sales team.

The travel giant said it is looking to “streamline its retail estate” as it earmarked 166 high street stores for closure.

Instead, these will be replaced with a new homeworking sales and service team, though it will be left with 350 stores in its network.

Tui said the Covid-19 pandemic is the “greatest crisis the travel industry has ever faced” and just in May, it announced plans to reduce global overhead costs by 30%. This would see approximately 8,000 roles impacted, adding that it would accelerate its efficiency and digitalisation.

‘Difficult cost decisions’

Andrew Flintham, managing director TUI UK and Ireland, said: “Customer behaviours have already changed in recent years, with 70% of all TUI UK bookings taking place online. We believe Covid-19 has only accelerated this change in purchasing habits, with people looking to buy online or wishing to speak with travel experts from the comfort of their own home. We have world class travel advisors at TUI, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value.”

“We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it’s in a high street store, over the telephone or online, and will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do. It is therefore imperative that we make these difficult cost decisions, look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty and also offer a modern customer service.”

‘Save our travel industry’

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) which represents staff in the travel trade industry said “We have been warning for weeks that high street travel shops could become a thing of the past unless the government took urgent action to help our industry navigate this crisis. Today’s announcement by TUI means that ministers must sit up, smell the coffee and act without further delay.

“We need a bespoke package of measures to save our travel industry. I call on TUI and other employers to engage with our union so we can jointly lobby government for this to happen.”

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