A NEW branch of the UK’s fastest-growing independent travel agency has opened its doors in Bootle creating six new jobs.
The Mayor of Sefton, Councillor Dave Robinson, was the VIP guest for the official opening at the new store in Strand Shopping Centre.
Around £60,000 has been spent on transforming the unit on Mariners Way, which includes a Bureau de Change.
It is the 31st branch for Hays Travel North West as the travel firm forges ahead with a major expansion scheme. A further four 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 Bootle manager Kellie Meakin-Wood, a mother-of-two who lives in Bootle and has worked in the travel industry to close to 30 years, said she could not have asked for a warmer welcome from her local community.
She said: “I worked in the Strand previously for another travel agency for 18 years so coming back home has been so positive and exciting for me.
“We have been given a lovely welcome by the Bootle community and also the other businesses in Strand Shopping Centre.
“The feedback we have been getting is that people are so pleased to see an independent travel agency arrive in the town. They are already making the most of it and booking their holidays with us which is great, considering we have really only been open for a full couple of days.
“It’s exciting to me as well, because I am from the community, to be opening up in the town and to have so many positive comments from people.
“I have already had some of my old customers come back in to see me which has been lovely.
“We were very grateful to the Mayor for helping us celebrate our official opening. It was lovely to have his support and he was also so positive about us opening in Bootle.”
Kellie 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 Sefton, Councillor Dave Robinson, said: “I have been delighted to help officially open Hays Travel in Bootle.
“It was a pleasure to meet the new team there who were extremely welcoming and very knowledgeable about the world of travel.
“I am very pleased for the Bootle community that an independent travel agency with such a well thought-of reputation is opening in the town and I wish them every success for the future.”
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, was also a guest at the official opening and said: “It’s been a pleasure to be at the opening of the new Hays Travel store and to welcome such a well-respected brand within the travel industry to Strand Shopping Centre.
“It is a fantastic new addition for our shoppers and the Bootle community and we will continue to work hard alongside Sefton Council to secure other new businesses to the centre.”
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.
At the end of last year, Don’s firm announced a turnover of more than £70m for the first time and they have branches across North Wales and the north west.