Travel company Tui will close 166 High Street stores in the UK and Ireland, affecting up to 900 jobs.
The UK’s largest tour operator said it hopes to keep 630 workers in a mix of sales and working from home and in the remaining stores.
The decision was made after changes in customer behavior, including a switch to the Internet, the company said in a statement.
About 350 retail stores will remain after the closures.
The outlets to close were chosen based on a number of factors, including local market data and “forecasts for the future of travel,” the company said.
Tui said he would not release the list of at-risk stores during the consultation period, but added that none of those that have reopened since the lockdown will be closed.
“We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it’s in a High Street store, over the phone or online, and we will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do,” said Andrew Flintham, Managing Director of Tui UK and Ireland.
“So it’s imperative that we make these tough cost decisions, take care of our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty, and provide modern customer service as well.
Tui also told the BBC that it has closed overseas customer service centers in Mumbai and Johannesburg in a bid to protect jobs in the UK.
The company announced in May that it plans to cut around 8,000 jobs globally, as it seeks to cut overhead costs by 30% during a major restructuring.
But as the coronavirus pandemic continued, the internet shift accelerated.
“Customer behaviors have already changed in recent years, with 70% of all Tui UK bookings taking place online,” said Flintham.
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“We believe that Covid-19 has only accelerated this shift in shopping habits, with people looking to shop online or wanting to speak to travel experts from the comfort of their own homes.
“We have world class travel counselors in Tui, so we hope many of them become home workers and continue to provide the personalized service we know for our clients.
Derek Jones, UK chief executive of travel company Kuoni, told the BBC he believes the next six months will be “really tough for the travel industry”.
“Unfortunately in my own business we have to do layoffs… but I think long term travel businesses have a bright future,” he said.
“And while I am extremely optimistic and optimistic for the long term, there is no doubt that the travel industry is heading for a very difficult time and that is why we are asking the government for further support. ”
Jet2 also recently urged the UK government not to introduce general quarantine periods in entire countries.
He said the government should have a “regionalised” policy, which would mean that only travelers returning from coronavirus hot spots would be forced to quarantine.
The company canceled all holidays to Spain until early August after Britain advised against non-essential travel there and imposed a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving in the UK in from Spain.
The UK has changed its mind after a spike in infections in parts of Spain, including Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, and Aragon.