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Travel operator Tui – which has a base in Inverness – to close 166 high street branches in UK and Ireland following downturn in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic

By Ian Duncan

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Tui, which has a branch in the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness, will shut a third of its high street stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

It is not yet known which branches will be affected and the move is in response to the downturn in travel caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

This will leave 350 stores following the closures and the firm has said it is looking to move around 70 per cent of the 900 affected staff to home-based sales and services roles with others relocated to remaining branches.

The travel firm said the closures were as a result of customers changing their shopping habits with more online custom brought about by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Managing director Andrew Flintham 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.

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

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