HOLIDAY provider Barrhead is bucking the decline in high street travel shops with plans to invest £300,000 in expansion during the coming year.
The company is set to acquire a further 10,000sq ft of retail space in Scotland and the north of England, taking its network to a total of 100,000sq ft.
Branches are expected to open in Carlisle, Dumbarton, Dumfries, Greenock and Inverness, as well as the launch of an additional “luxury holiday and business travel centre” in its home city of Glasgow.
Barrhead is already Scotland’s largest privately owned travel group. Set up by founder and chairman Bill Munro in Renfrewshire in 1975, the company currently employs about 700 people across 45 locations.
Munro said this latest expansion was being driven by the “remarkable deals” being offered by high street landlords. He also hopes to capitalise on cut-backs by larger UK rivals.
“Because of the competitive deals being offered to us by landlords, plans for openings in these locations are now very much on the table – which will be a welcome boost for jobseekers and customers alike following the nationwide closures announced by Thomas Cook and Thomson,” Munro said.
Some 2,500 employees at Thomas Cook are facing redundancy as the struggling tour operator seeks to revive its fortunes. The job losses, announced in March, include 900 shop staff and a further 1,600 across the retail division.
The UK’s travel agency workforce has fallen from more than 69,000 in 2008 to some 66,000 last year, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics.
That included a 3 per cent recovery in 2012, though job numbers are forecast to remain flat this year.