The Glasgow travel group unveiled plans in October to establish up to 100 additional Barrhead-branded outlets and rehire “a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees as quickly as possible” in the wake of the travel giant’s demise.
Barrhead president Jacqueline Dobson, who accelerated the group’s expansion plans after Thomas Cook’s collapse, has insisted that the high street “is very much alive”.
If successful, the ambitious proposals would see Barrhead more than double its current footprint, which consists of a network of 76 stores with a strong presence in Scotland, as well as outlets in Newcastle, Cumbria, Leicester, Southampton and Belfast.
The first seven of the group’s new agencies – located in Liverpool, Widnes, Wallasey, Burnley, Isle of Wight, Northwich and Warrington – are expected to open ahead of peak trading in January.
Barrhead forecasts its full-year turnover for 2019 will hit £329 million, and is preparing to invest £1.5m in IT infrastructure in the coming year to support a “state-of-the-art” telephone system and updated hardware across the group.
The business has also appointed group head of people development, Andrew McAulay, who will be tasked with re-energising the training offering and spearheading training investment.
Speaking at the group’s annual partner conference in Ayrshire, Dobson said: “We do believe the high street has a future and is very much alive.”
She said the company’s 75 new recruits played a critical role in selecting the new stores, adding: “When we move into new locations, we want to empower our managers to let them drive their own marketing strategy.
“They’ve also been fundamental in helping choose locations – after all, they know their local communities better than anyone and their input in premises selection is crucial.”
Barrhead was acquired by US-headquartered Travel Leaders Group, a retail travel company with more than 6,000 agency locations worldwide, in February 2018.