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TUI to shut 166 stores in UK and Ireland as COVID-19 keeps customers at home

Some 630 of the 900 staff attached to the closing stores will move to home-working sales or customer service roles.

TUI AG - TUI to shut 166 stores in UK and Ireland as COVID-19 keeps customers at home

Shares in travel agent TUI AG (LON:TUI) shed 4% on Thursday as it emerged that 166 high street stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland would be closed.

It specifically pointed to an accelerated change in consumer behaviour, shifting online, and said that around 350 remaining high-street shops would be retained.

TUI had previously revealed plans to axe 8,000 jobs internationally, and, today said it would seek to transition some 630 of the 900 staff associated with the store closures into homeworking sales and services roles. The other people would potentially be relocated to other high street stores.

READ: Travel shares sink after UK imposes new quarantine rules

Managing director Andrew Flintham said: "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 advisers at Tui, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value."

All aspects of the travel and tourism is plainly among the worst hit as the pandemic grounded the majority of flights, led to the cancellation of immediate non-essential travel and effectively scrapped many medium-term vacation plans.

The reopening of popular tourist resorts has proved challenging even as lockdowns have eased, with threats and fears of the virus’s ‘second wave’ causing renewed chaos in recent days.

Only yesterday, TUI cancelled all of its holidays to the Balearic and Canary Islands until August 4 following renewed quarantine measures on travellers arriving from Spain by the UK government.

Earlier, it cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain until August 10.

Rival package holiday operator Jet2, owned by Dart Group PLC (LON:DTG), has also cancelled holidays to the Balearic’s and the Canaries until August 10, and trips to mainland Spain until August 17.

Travellers who were due to travel to Spain between July 26 and August 9 will be able to amend or cancel their booking and either receive a refund or rebook at a later date.

Quick facts: TUI AG

Price: 315.6 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.86 billion

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