Hays Travel seeks to fill gaps in UK shop network

Hays Travel is looking to expand to plug gaps in its nationwide retail network as it pledges further investment in its existing shops.

The UK’s largest agency chain has 460 high street shops across the UK, including in Scotland, Wales, south and southwest England and its northeast heartland.

Chief operating officer Jonathon Woodall-Johnston said: “We are looking at chains and small independents. There are still areas we don’t cover. In Sunderland we have got shops that are five or six miles from each other, but in some places [in the UK] they are much farther apart.”

More: The Interview: Hays Travel’s Jonathon Woodall-Johnston

He added: “We are always looking at other businesses to see if they could be the right fit and would complement our company.”

In 2019, Hays Travel bought Thomas Cook’s retail estate of 553 UK stores. It continued to make further acquisitions during the Covid pandemic, snapping up Welsh miniple Tailor Made Travel in 2020 and homeworking franchise company Explorer Travel last year.

Woodall-Johnston also revealed plans to roll out digital screens across its entire existing network by the end of March 2023. Currently about 200 of its 460 stores have digital screens in their windows and inside. They are the original Hays Travel shops, including former Bath Travel stores.

All shops will have media player upgrades, which will allow Hays to regionalise its offers according to where stores are located to maximise sales opportunities.

Woodall-Johnston said the screens offered “speed to market” but stressed traditional window cards would not disappear completely.

“It’s been a challenge in the pandemic to get the messages printed,” he said. “We want to take the opportunity to smarten up our windows and invest in the high street. The screens are very sophisticated.”

More: The Interview: Hays Travel’s Jonathon Woodall-Johnston

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