A northeast-based travel agent is opening three more shops, more than doubling its retail footprint despite the pandemic.
Now Lets Travel, a member of Brilliant Travel, is opening new stores in Wallsend, Peterlee and Stockton on Tees.
Owner Paul Johnstone already has a calls centre in Sunderland and a retail store in Jesmond, Newcastle.
Originally specialising in bespoke cruise holidays, Paul found that during the pandemic more and more new and existing customers wanted to book face to face with a travel consultant.
He opened his first city centre retail outlet in Newcastle in December 2020, initially recruiting seven employees and later adding another 13.
The additional store openings, which have been postponed till October due to the pandemic, will create up to 15 new jobs, including opportunities for young people looking to start a career in travel.
“At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 when the world of travel ground to a halt, I never considered that I would be able to realise my dreams of expansion within two years,” said Paul. “But the support and loyalty I have had from my customers, my fantastic team and community have been exceptional.
“It gave me the confidence to press ahead and open our Newcastle city centre store at the end of 2020, which has been one of the best decisions I ever made and I am excited for the opening of our new stores.
“This is still a really challenging period for the industry – and it’s not going to be easy to open these stores while recovery remains slower than we would like. However, I firmly believe that the future of travel and its recovery lies with the high street travel agent as customers need advice more than ever – particularly given the changes we have seen over the last 18 months.
“The people in our industry are genuinely amazing and I know it’s been a very difficult year for many. I hope I can offer new opportunities and stable career options to talented travel professionals who, through no fault of their own, have perhaps lost jobs because of the pandemic or have had to temporarily leave the industry.”
Linda Pyle, Director of Brilliant Travel, which is part of the Barrhead Travel Group, said: “I am delighted for Paul and his team. I’ve seen Paul grow his business from its initial days on social media to now, where he has a thriving retail estate and a great team behind him. His passion for both travel and his people have been the key to his success.
“Seeing our members expand is always wonderful – but to do it in the midst of a pandemic is really special. We’re right behind him on this journey and I look forward to seeing his plans come to life.”
Now Lets Travel is recruiting for experienced travel agents, with positions including team leaders and travel consultants, both full and part-time. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org