TUI to close 166 high street travel agencies – with ones in Norfolk at risk

Tui is to close a third of its high street travel shops, moving some staff online. Pic: Tui

Tui is to close a third of its high street travel shops, moving some staff online. Pic: Tui - Credit: Archant

Tour operator Tui, with outlets across Norfolk, is to close almost a third of its shops, moving staff to work from home instead.

The UK’s biggest tour operator is axing shops which could include Dereham and Thetford in Norfolk and Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. It has said none of its shops which have reopened following coronavirus are at risk.

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The firm, which is going to be asking 70% of 900 staff to work from home, said it was to cut costs because of the coronavirus pandemic and changes in customer behaviour.

Tui also aims to relocate staff to vacancies in the remaining 350 retail stores.

The firm, which has only recently resumed some holiday flights after lockdown, announced in May that it planned to cut around 8,000 jobs globally to reduce overhead costs by 30%.

It also has travel agencies in Norwich and King’s Lynn.

A spokeswoman from TUI told this newspaper the firm was not releasing details of the affected stores but there were redundancies and a consultation process with staff had begun.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, said: “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.

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“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.”

Tui resumed its flights and holidays programme on July 11 but has cancelled trips to Spain due to the UK’s decision to reimpose quarantine requirements and travel warnings in relation to the country.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, 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.”