Travel company TUI says it’s shutting a third of shops across the UK and Ireland – including potentially four Irish outlets.
Spokespeople for the package holiday giant in Dublin, London and its headquarters in Hannover, Germany, said no holiday bookings will be affected by the closure of physical stores, given that most sales already happen online.
Eight of TUI’s 10 stores in Ireland are listed as closed temporarily due to Covid-19 transmission risks. Two shops in Kilkenny and on Talbot Street in Dublin are listed as open.
One TUI official said four of the 10 Irish branches were likely to close. A second said at least some Irish outlets would remain open.
“I can confirm that none of the stores that are currently open are at risk of closure,” that London-based spokeswoman said.
An agent who answered the phone at the Talbot Street branch said it was open for business but TUI was not highlighting this fact “because we’d be inundated”. The agent said staff there had not been informed about its future.
In a statement, TUI said it was consulting with staff on the closure of 166 stores in the UK and Ireland and, until those talks finished, no list of affected branches would be published. About 350 outlets would survive the cuts, it said.
TUI said it planned to move 70pc of approximately 900 staff in the closing outlets to work-from-home roles, others to surviving branches. But potentially 250 to 300 job losses could be expected.
In May, TUI - the world’s biggest provider of package holidays - said it would slash costs globally by 30pc and cut more than 8,000 of its 70,000 employees worldwide. It had already received a €1.8bn German government-backed loan in March to keep it afloat.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI for the UK and Ireland, said TUI needed a smaller footprint because 70pc of sales already happen 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,” he said.
TUI’s shares fell by more than 5pc today on the London and Frankfurt exchanges. The company now is worth under €2bn, a third of its value before the crisis.