A NEW branch of the UK’s fastest-growing independent travel agency has opened its doors in St Helens creating six new jobs.
The Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens, Councillor Patricia Ireland and Mrs Lynn Glover, and Labour MP for St Helens and Whiston Marie Rimmer, were VIP guests for the official opening at the new store in Church Square shopping centre.
Around £100,000 has been spent on transforming the unit on Church Street, which includes a Bureau de Change.
It is the 30th branch for Hays Travel North West as the travel firm forges ahead with a major expansion scheme. A further five branches are predicted to be opened by the end of 2018 and the new Hays Travel openings are collectively creating around 60 new jobs.
Hays Travel St Helens manager Gemma Bate, of Billinge, said she could not have asked for a warmer reception from the local community.
She said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant. People have been coming in and telling us how pleased they are that we have opened up and to see such a nice, clean, modern store opening in the town. We have already been really busy with booking holidays for people which has given us the best possible starting boost.
“We were very grateful to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress and our local MP to come and celebrate our official opening. It was lovely to have their support and they were also so positive about us opening in the town.
“I am born and bred here so it has been a really special store opening for me and I am proud to be the manager here.”
Gemma, who previously worked for Co-operative Travel, now Thomas Cook, in St Helens for 10 years, added: “I think the reason people are glad to see us is that as an independent travel agency, we can offer holidays from a huge range of different providers and tour operators and work with customers to find the perfect holiday which fits their budget.
“It’s also a really welcoming store for people to visit because it is has been refurbished to such a high standard and I think we all appreciate seeing this sort of investment in our communities.”
The Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Patricia Ireland, said: “Myself and the Mayoress were delighted to be asked to open the new venture of Hays Travel in Church Street.
“The staff are extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their travel. It is a great addition to our town centre and I wish them every success in the future”.
Her positive comments were echoed by MP Marie Rimmer who said: “It was a pleasure to attend the official opening of the new Hays Travel store in the town centre and hear for myself what a professional, new travel firm has joined the St Helens community.
“It’s fantastic to see investment in the town from a firm like Hays Travel who I know were keen to get a presence on the St Helens high street because of its strong sense of community. I am not surprised at all to hear they have had a very warm welcome and I join everyone in wishing them every success in the coming months.”
Church Square is home to 60 stores and includes big name high street brands such as River Island, Pandora, H&M and Costa as well as smaller independents.
Steven Brogan, Church Square Centre Manager, was also a guest at the official opening and said: “We are delighted with the look of the new store which is extremely smart and inviting for our shoppers.
“Hays Travel is an extremely well-respected brand within the travel industry and so we are really pleased to have them open their doors with us at Church Square.
“They are a fantastic new addition for our shoppers and the St Helens community.”
Hays Travel North West was founded by managing director Don Bircham, a father-of-two, who set up his business with a single travel agency in Mold town centre, North Wales, in 2000.
His network of travel agencies are now the main partner of the hugely successful ATOL-protected Hays Travel, based in Sunderland, which has just announced a turnover of more than £1bn and is the UK’s largest independent travel agency.
Don’s firm has a turnover of more than £70m and they have branches across North Wales and the north west.