TUI is set to close 166 high street stores in the UK and Ireland as it “adapts to changes in customer behaviour” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group said the impacted stores were selected based on a number of factors, including local market data, consumer trends and predictions on the future of travel. Ultimately, this will leave 350 stores in its retail network.
TUI said it is looking to move 70% of the 900 impacted staff roles into its new home working sales and service team. It also aims to relocate retail advisers to vacancies across the remaining high street stores to preserve expertise and continue to offer a great service to its customers.
It follows a review of UK customer booking behaviours in a bid to streamline its retail estate. In May, the TUI Group announced that it was to reduce overhead costs globally by 30%, with approximately 8,000 roles impacted, and would seek to accelerate its path to become “more efficient” and continue with its programme of digitalisation.
Andrew Flintham, managing director TUI UK and Ireland, said: “We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it’s in a high street store, over the telephone or online, and will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do.
“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.”
He added: “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.
“We have world class travel advisors at TUI, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value.”