A NEW branch of the UK’s fastest-growing independent travel agency is set to open in Bootle creating six new jobs.
Bosses at Hays Travel North West have confirmed they have signed a lease for a new store in Strand Shopping Centre in the heart of the Merseyside town.
Work is about to start on a £60,000 transformation of the inside of the unit, opposite New Look, ready for opening time later on this month.
It is part of a major expansion scheme launched at the end of last year by the travel firm which has 30 branches across the North West and North Wales.
The Bootle store, which will include a Bureau de Change, will come hot on the heels of a new St Helens store which was opened last month. A further four branches are expected to be opened by the end of 2018 and collectively the new Hays Travel openings are creating around 60 new jobs.
Don Bircham, Hays Travel North West Managing Director, said: “Opening up a store in Bootle is a great addition for us and it fits the bill perfectly, in terms of our ideal location.
“We have found a great central location at Strand Shopping Centre, in the heart of a bustling and vibrant community, and the management team there have been extremely supportive and welcoming which has been great.
“We will now be working hard to transform the new unit with a £60,000 modern, high-spec makeover which we have across all of our stores so our customers feel welcomed and comfortable when they come to book their holidays with us.”
New branch manager Kellie Meakin-Wood is no stranger to the town, having been born and brought up in Bootle and previously worked for another travel agency in the Strand for 18 years.
Kellie, 43, a mother-of-two who lives in Bootle and has worked in the travel industry for close to 30 years, said: “I am really looking forward to coming home and being in charge of the new store.
“We will be the only independent travel agency in Bootle and I feel this is great news for the community.
“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 exact holiday which fits their budget.
“Holidays are really important for people and their families so customer service is everything to us.
“Having been in the industry for such a long time, I have a lot of long standing customers from the area. It’s lovely because I am now booking holidays for some customers whose parents were some of the first people to book holidays with me.
“I remember them coming in as very small children and now I am booking holidays for them and their young families.”
Strand Shopping Centre is home to more than 70 stores and includes big name high street brands such as New Look, Home Bargains, W H Smith and Argos as well as smaller independents.
Rowland Parry, Strand Shopping Centre Manager, said: “Hays Travel is an extremely well-respected brand in the travel industry and we are very pleased to be welcoming them to Strand Shopping Centre.
“We continue to work very hard alongside Sefton Council to encourage new tenants to the shopping centre and having Hays Travel join us so soon after the Post Office and Transylvania Eastern European Food Store is fantastic news for us and our loyal shoppers.”
Don, a father-of-two, 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 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 now turns over more than £70m.
Don added: “Hays Travel, which is ATOL-protected, is a well-recognised, solid and respected brand. Through Hays Travel we are able to offer a brilliant choice of holidays and we are not aligned to any particular tour operator so we can sell a wide range of holidays which fit the customer’s requirements.
“There is absolutely no pressure on our staff to sell a particular type of holiday so our customers come in and receive impartial advice without a particular emphasis on one tour operator. I think this is one of the main reasons people choose our branches to book their holidays.”